Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Things Haven't Been Going Well This Year at the Kanawha County Library

Photo source:  City Profile

Kanawha County Library's financial future remains uncertain. (Charleston Daily Mail, 10/14/2013)

Excerpt: Late last month the library was notified that it had failed to comply with a state Library Commission policy that regulates expenditure levels over time: last fiscal year, the library failed to spend more than, or the same amount as, the average of the amount they had in the three prior years. 

That's because the library sharply cut expenditures this year, after their fiscal situation was left uncertain by a state Supreme Court ruling that found the decades-old law that forced the school system to fund the library was unconstitutional. 

That left the library system scrambling to right its finances, looking to come up with nearly $3.8 million, 40 percent of its operating budget.

Kanawha school and library levy voted down resoundingly. (Charleston Daily Mail, 11/9/2013)

Ouch! With all 165 precincts reporting, the vote was 76.18 percent against the proposed excess levy, and 23.82 in favor. In all, 17,590 votes were cast against the levy, and just 5,501 in support of it.

Kanawha Library starts making plans to cut back.  (Charleston Daily Mail, 11/12/2013)

Cuts all over the place.  Foremost among the proposed cost-cutting measures are closures of some of the library's nine branch locations, and a reduction in staff. The main library branch, in downtown Charleston, will remain intact, if with a reduction in services. It remains to be seen which branch locations will be affected.

Kanawha County Library says privatization unlikely. (Charleston Daily Mail, 11/17/2013)

Public rumblings about the library efficiency. Could the library system privatize, in a move toward greater cost efficiency?

Alan Engelbert, the library system's director, says no.

"The Kanawha County Public Library has never considered privatizing," he said. "At this point the library does contract out various aspects of our operations where it's beneficial to do so ... and we provide very efficient and cost-effective service."

West Virginia Book Festival Cancelled.  (3/27/2013)

Library can no longer carry the load.  The cancellation of the festival is caused by the loss of significant funding to Kanawha County Public Library for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. The library provided the bulk of the staffing and organizational support for the festival.

Court: Kanawha school board no longer forced to help fund library.  (Charleston Daily Mail, 2/22/2013)

Blame it on the 1950s:   A 1957 state law dictates that nine school systems in West Virginia must turn over a portion of their budget to help fund public libraries in their counties. In Kanawha County, that would amount to a payout of nearly $3 million in the current fiscal year. 

That relationship has been the subject of a legal battle between the two organizations. In 2003, school officials sued the West Virginia Department of Education to recover money they were forced to spend on libraries, arguing that the law requiring them to do so was unreasonable, and that they should receive a couple of million dollars more in state aid each year because of the requirement. 

And even before this year.  This modern classic has yet to leave the drawing board.

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