Budget Cuts Threaten Local Libraries' Futures

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January 19, 2010

The future of two local libraries is being threatened by budget cuts.

Board members for Jefferson Madison Regional Library said Albemarle County is considering cutting library funding by 5 to 10 percent.

That would require JMRL to make drastic changes, and county residents would feel the impact. Library branches in Scottsville and Crozet will be affected and may close.

At a press conference this afternoon, the library board went over details of how such major cuts would affect library users.

A 5 percent cut would force JMRL to close the Scottsville Library. A 10 percent cut in the library's budget would close both Scottsville and Crozet branches.

Such cuts from the county would also affect how much state aid JMRL receives. State aid pays for all books, audio books and online databases.

"In addition to damaging library services for their own residents," JMRL Board of Trustees Chair Tony Townsend said."Albemarle County's inequitable cuts would trigger additional cuts by the state. That would impact library users throughout the region."

JMRL said they will not let these changes happen to the library system.

The final decision will fall on the laps of the Board of Supervisors. Chairwoman Ann Mallek said these requests are part of the budget process, and there always needs to be a contingency plan.

"It is a very scary prospect to have to be closing libraries, or even thinking about closing libraries," Mallek said. "We need to have that kind of information. What is the effect going to be if there were a 5 percent cut? What would the effect be if there were a 10 percent cut?"

JMRL and Mallek said Albemarle residents need to speak up in order to save these libraries. They want to hear what is a priority to the people.

If the budget cuts are approved, the libraries could close by July.

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