Libraries Avoid Another Bite From the Budget

Massanutten Regional Library Director Phil Hearne is writing a thank you note to the state's Secretary of Education.

"It is a relief that the Governor did not reduce state aid any further in the budget adjustment this time," said Hearne.

Public libraries have already undergone two rounds of reductions this year resulting in a loss of some $90,000. Though the library is sighing with relief now, Hearn said it won't be until positive word comes from the state legislature in February that will set his mind at ease.

"I'm going to hold my breath until the final word," said Hearne.

Massanutten has dropped its book budget of $12,000 to $5,000 a month. Now that 20 percent of this library's operating budget is gone, Hearne said he's glad the community is so supportive.

"The city of Harrisonburg has assured us that the rest of the year we'll be receiving funds they promised. Rockingham County the same and Page County. It's just the state that can't seem to budget as wisely as it should," says Hearne.

Hearne says Valley residents, students and children will suffer the most from the state's cuts. But it's nothing new, he says.

"This isn't unusual. I've been in libraries for 25 years. This is the fifth time this has happened in my career," said Hearne.

Still, he's concerned about what could happen next.

"The only part of our budget that hasn't been touched is our operating hours and that may be the next action they take," Hearne said.

The state library will face further cuts and they've already lost 40 staff members. Locally, there have been no library lay-offs but some may cut back further on services and materials.

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