by Max Brantley
The Central Arkansas Library System has scheduled a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, to discuss service cuts to allow whatever repayment plan is ultimately put in place to refund one year worth of a Little Rock property tax increase collected prematurely.
Cuts in hours, closure of one branch, postponement of one branch opening, pay freezes or cuts and postponements in material purchases are being discussed.
Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) will host a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 14 in the Main Library’s Darragh Center to discuss service reduction to conform to the recent Supreme Court’s decision regarding the collection of library property taxes in 2008. Action on these proposals will take place after approval of the CALS Board of Trustees on Thursday, January 28.
Reduction in branch hours, postponement of a new library, closure of one branch, pay freezes, pay cuts of higher level employees and postponed purchases are among the options being discussed.
At present, the Court has not ruled on the exact amount to be reimbursed, a timeline for repayment, or any procedure to follow. The estimated amount for reimbursement is approximately 10% of the 2010 budget, or $1,500,000. Service reductions to reach the targeted amount include reducing service hours at all Little Rock libraries, reducing the Children’s Library programming, delaying opening the new Rooker Library, closing Aerospace Library and reducing the books and audio/visual materials budget. Internal cuts to reach the balance will include a reduction in reserve funds, no staff raises, voluntary pay cuts from senior staff, freezing all open positions and reductions in various operating and capital areas. Service reductions will only apply to branches within the City of Little Rock. Comments on the proposed budget cuts can be emailed to email@example.com.
In 2009, CALS continued a 9–year trend of increases in circulation and attendance. Increases and improvements in services in 2009 included the addition of downloadable audio books via the website; addition of a new library catalog with enhanced search capabilities; completion of the Arkansas Studies Institute; operation of the Arkansas Literary Festival; expansion of River Market Books & Gifts, the library’s used book store; 30% increase in the DVD collection; and increases in circulation and attendance by about 13% and 5%, respectively. In 2009, the Library experienced significant increases in use as the economy worsened, with patrons using electronic and print resources to locate jobs or learn new skills to qualify for jobs in different career areas.
None of these cuts in service will interfere with the expansion of the Main Library or construction of the Children’s Library Initiative. Director Bobby Roberts states, “We expect services to be restored in 2011. Our customer service will remain at its current excellent level, and we will do the best we can with money we have.”
Libraries in Little Rock include: Main Library, 100 Rock Street; Aerospace Library, 3301 East Roosevelt Road; Dee Brown Library, 6325 Baseline Road; Fletcher Library, 823 North Buchanan Street; Terry Library, 2015 Napa Valley Drive; Thompson Library, 38 Rahling Circle; Williams Library, 1800 Chester Street; and McMath Library, 2100 John Barrow Drive.
For more information contact Susan Hill Gele at 918-3086.