Sunday, September 4, 2011

More Visits But Fewer Hours, Staff, and Acquisitions @ the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library

It's a brave new world at the library. (Buffalo News, 9/4/2011)

The Buffalo & Erie County Public Library system had 3.9 million patron visits in 2010, a 10-year high that continued a five-year trend.

At the same time, it has had its budget reduced by the state and, more dramatically, the county in recent years, resulting in 6.7 fewer weekly hours per branch, 45 fewer full-time staff and fewer acquisitions in 2011. Full-time staff, which stood at 398 in 1995, is now 179.

"What concerns us is what is lost along the way," said Tim Galvin, president of the librarians union. "The quality of service we provide has been diminished, including the level of human interaction people are used to."

County Executive Chris Collins has offered to restore $2 million from a "rainy day fund" for 2012, and assume the Central Library's $1.3 million utility costs. That, together with an expected fund balance, "reductions and tweaks" in the budget and savings in fringe benefits should keep service levels largely intact, said Kenneth H. Stone, the library system's chief financial officer.

The system still faces a $900,000 shortfall for acquiring new materials in each of the next three years, which will drastically shrink its ability to stay current with materials and to afford replacements.

Related articles:
Erie County Exec's 2012 library allocation will "necessitate major changes". (6/7/2011)
County Exec builds a surplus by pulling the rug from under the library. (4/27/2011)
Funding picture gets progressively worse.  (2/26/2011)
Unhappy times continue.  (1/21/2011)
Library officials ask for final decision on budget. (12/22/2010)
Additional funding for library but not for arts groups.  (12/12/2010)
Legislators restore County Executive's $4,000,000 cut to library - for now.  (12/2/2010)
"No more worthwhile program of service".  (11/14/2010)
A bibliopocalypse @ the library.  (11/6/2010)
WBEN online poll offers 3 general options for public library future. (10/31/2010)
Reimagining the library.  (10/27/2010)
Budget cuts = reduced hours.  (10/21/2010)
Deep cuts (again) in the works.  (9/17/2010)
Editorial puts in 'a word about libraries'.  (8/30/2010)
Library could lose 25% of funding.  (8/19/2009)

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