LEWISBURG — The Public Library for Union County will be reducing hours next year in response to cuts in state aid, the library administrator said.
The library at 255 Reitz Blvd. will be closed Sundays and will close at 5 p.m. Wednesdays, cutting seven and a half hours from the regular schedule starting Jan. 1, Roberta Greene said.
The library is expecting a 10.3 percent cut in what it receives from the state next year, after about 20 percent in funding was cut in 2010.
"It seems to be the roller coaster of funding," Greene said. "We're just in one of the down dips of the roller coaster."
The library has 18 employees and has opted not to fill two part-time positions left vacant through retirement. That leaves 40 hours per week not covered.
The organization's governing board of trustees decided to cut hours to make up for the lost employees.
"With the complement of staff hours that remain, it is virtually impossible to cover the current schedule and provide the assistance we need for people to use the library," Greene said.
This isn't the first time the board has reduced hours. It voted to close the facility several extra days around major holidays. Library employees are not paid for those days off.
Between this year and next, the library will have lost $119,349, or about a third of its state funding. That money is divided into three areas: $52,500 in direct state subsidies, $42,449 in County Coordination Aid and $24,000 for Access Pennsylvania.
County Coordination Aid is paid to libraries that receive a direct county appropriation or library tax revenue, according to a news release from the library. Priorities for the use of these funds are established by an annual county-level plan. The Public Library for Union County is the headquarters for the federated Union County Library System, which also consists of the Herr Memorial Library in Mifflinburg and the West End Library in Laurelton.
Access Pennsylvania is a statewide catalog of materials that can be requested through interlibrary loan, the news release stated.
The Herr and West End libraries won't be reducing hours, Greene said. Those libraries have opted to reduce the amount of materials they buy. Greene, who just started at Union County in August, said the board in Lewisburg did the same thing last year.
The library relies on a countywide tax that brings in about $320,000 on a budget of about $549,000.
The Lewisburg branch also relies heavily on two fundraisers -- a silent auction in March and a book sale in July -- to make ends meet.
"Both in the budget for next year are expected to bring in additional revenue," she said.
What makes cutting hours so tough is that the public, too, is feeling the pinch from the economy. Many have canceled magazine and newspaper subscriptions and read periodicals at the library, Greene said.
Other families do without NetFlix or premium cable channels and get movies for free at the library.
"When people are looking to save money in their personal budget, they look to libraries to help," she said. "We are a source of support to everyone in the community."
Through the end of 2010, the Public Library for Union County's regular hours will be 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 1 to 5 on Sundays. The library will be closed today for a countywide staff training day.
The library has the following holiday schedule: close at 5 p.m. Nov. 24; closed all day Nov. 25 through Nov. 28; close at 5 p.m. Dec. 23; closed all day Dec. 24 through Dec. 26; close at 5 p.m. Dec. 27 through Dec. 30; and closed all day from Dec. 31 through Jan. 2.
For information, call 523-1172 or visit the library's website www.publibuc.org.