As the election for new Council members and a new mayor is being decided, important decisions are being made daily at Seattle City Council. On November 2, City Council began considering 4 options to partially restore library funding. If there is no funding restoration, The Library will have to cut 330 weekly service hours to comply with the Mayor’s 5% reduction in the endorsed 2010 library budget. 21 libraries would close on Friday and Sunday and be open after six only twice a week. Among many other services, this will impact nighttime classes, community meetings and homework help programs.
If Option A is adopted and the 330 hours are restored, The Library will still close for one entire week in 2010 and will sustain considerable cuts to its Capital budget. Option A, the best case scenario being considered, would still mean a 3% reduction in the library’s budget.
Board member Tony Provine and Vice President Jennifer Johnson-Fong represented the concerns of many patrons when they spoke to Council members yesterday. Provine said, “As a part of the proposed budget cuts of $2.6 million from the previously adopted budget, the Library is preparing to reduce service hours at 21 of 27 branches. These service hour reductions account for $1.2 million.
To disenfranchise any communities and restrict service in those areas penalizes those citizens who do not have the good fortune to reside in another community. Many who utilize our libraries are unable to travel to the few branchess open on Fridays and Sundays, and since all branches will be closing earlier, afternoon and evening activities will be significantly restricted. All of this comes at a time when Library services are more in demand than ever.”