Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Living In A Constant Stream of Budget Cuts at Mount Vernon Public Library

Living In A Constant Stream of Budget Cuts at Mount Vernon Public Library

The proposed budget for the Mount Vernon Public Library of $3.5 million may layoff another 11 people effectively eliminating close to half of the staff. There are various scenarios here, but they are all drastic.  This could make the library not very functional. It would be a $500,000 cut from $4 million last year. There was also a recent $180,000 end of the year payment that came due.

On December 8, 2010 from 6:30-8:30 p.m., there is also a chat with the mayor @ Allen Memorial Church, 132 Crary Avenue. This is separate from the City Council. 

There is a special budget hearing on December 14, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. at Mount Vernon city hall that is focused on the budget.

These are two critical events if you want a functioning library in Mount Vernon, New York. Things need to change to make things work.

We already went through a cut of $180,000 in staff.  Three people took retirement.  Six people were demoted and three people were terminated.  This was already a hard thing to face.

It would be terrible to see a place where I had worked for seven years be cut back so drastically.  One of the people who retired had worked for the Mount Vernon Public Library for fifty four years.  It is hard seeing things change so quickly.  Many of the other people have lived in the neighborhood and have worked in the building for over twenty years.

There is a statement that there is no money.  It is more a matter of what the priorities are on spending.  Different people have different views on libraries.  However, if you support libraries and live in Mount Vernon, New York you should come.  The Mount Vernon Public Library is also the central library for Westchester county.  If you are a librarian in Westchester County you might want to come as well.

This is not just about performance, since 2007, our circulation has increased 52%,  our foot traffic has increased 46%.  There is even more room for improvement.

The salaries of the staff are in line with most of the salaries of other libraries in Westchester county.  Librarians have masters degrees and masters degrees cost money.  It is not unskilled labor.

  The proposed budget which was  asked for of $4 million dollars  is very close to a library of similar size in Westchester, New Rochelle Public Library which has a $4.2 million dollar budget.  There has been improvement.

The question we are facing is not just about whether we are trying to do a good job.  It is fundamentally about how the city values the library.  There are messages like we only need people to check out books and use computers.  There is a lot more value in the building.

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