Library Board cuts hours due to budget woes

Hours of operation at the Jennie Stephens Smith Public Library in New Albany will be cut effective February 29th.

The Union County Library Board decided on the cuts at a meeting Thursday, February 11th. The reduced operations of the library have been made necessary for a simple reason: lack of money.

“This decision was made at the conclusion of a long, frustrating meeting and with great reluctance,” said J. Lynn West, chairman of the library board. “We hope this is a temporary measure, but, at this point, there is no relief in sight,” he said.

Effective on February 29th, the library will no longer be open on Mondays. Hours of operation Wednesdays and Fridays will be reduced to nine hours each day, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays the library will be open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday hours will be 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Full time and part time library staff received letters Tuesday, February 16th, informing them of the cuts. Full time staff will cover the reduced hours of operation, and part-time staff will be working fewer hours.

While appropriations for the library from Union County government have increased in recent years, the state of Mississippi has radically reduced its appropriations for public library operations statewide.

West said personnel grants from the state of Mississippi “have been reducing for several years.” Additionally, the state budget presented a few days ago by Governor Phil Bryant has cut personnel budgets for all state supported operations by another six percent.

Union County Administrator Terry Johnson told NAnewsweb.com Tuesday that millage rates have been reduced as the total assessed values of taxable property in the county have increased. Thus the county’s appropriation for library operations have increased during recent years.

West said the county government’s support for the its library system had increased by about 23% during the last 13 years, but that personnel expenses have gone up about 38% during the same period.

The county government will be receiving its largest remittance of the year from the office of County Collector Randy Dunnam during the next few days. Courthouse sources have indicated that the remittance could amount to about three million dollars.

For further information and opinions about the library:

Editorial Opinion: State government fails Mississippi again

One citizen’s opinion: The library is in dire straits

Opinions and comments about the library’s plight: “Well, I Reckon…”