County Libraries Forced To Reduce Public Offerings

SNOW HILL – Next year, library patrons in Worcester County will have fewer new books and periodicals to peruse.

“We took a pretty savage cut there,” said Worcester County Library System Director Mark Thomas.

Local libraries must work with less revenue next fiscal year, with little to reduce aside from materials and personnel.

The entire county library system will purchase 7,000 to 8,000 less new materials next fiscal year, according to Thomas.

“This is not the sort of thing people are not going to notice,” he said.

Patrons will have to wait longer to read new bestsellers and other hot items, since the libraries will be able to buy fewer copies, Thomas said. There will also be fewer DVDs and CDs to choose from.

“The level of buying at libraries will be noticeably less. We are going to get fussed at,” Thomas said.

Inter-library loans will still be available, but jurisdictions are cutting that funding, too.

“There’s going to be way fewer numbers of things and getting them is going to take significantly longer,” Thomas said.

Worcester County libraries plan to reduce expenditures in the proposed budget by making cuts in several areas, such as special programs and supplies and equipment.

Staff development has been reduced but Thomas hopes to find another way to educate staff. 

“We’re not going to give up on our staff. They’re the heart of what we do,” said Thomas.

Part-time employee hours have also been reduced. A recent retirement left a position open, which will not be filled, creating further savings.

Telephone and Internet expenses have been cut, but there’s not much anyone can do about utility costs, said Thomas.

The libraries do not have much to cut after materials and people, Thomas said.

“We may have to reduce hours of operation,” Thomas said.

Commissioner Linda Busick asked whether the Friends of the Library groups could help supply funding to make up some of those losses. The Friends of the Ocean Pines Library, for example, have raised significant funds in the past, she said.

Thomas said he hopes so. The volunteer library support organizations could mitigate some of the changes, he said, noting that the Worcester County libraries and the friends groups have a strong relationship and have worked well together for years.