Tough times for public libraries

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Photo Credit: Torn & Cut One Dollar Note Floating Away by photosteve 101, Flickr, CC2.0

Forget about therapeutic shopping, especially in these times of thin wallets. When things get tough, the tough get going to the public library. Where else can you find so much entertainment and help for free?

But metro area libraries are also facing budget difficulties as evidenced by Carlos Illescas’  Denver Post article “Hard Times for Aurora Libraries” concerning cutbacks in service and a library closing in Aurora.

The article said that the Chambers Plaza Library at East Colfax Avenue and Chambers Road will close April 6. It added that hours will be cut at all of the city’s remaining libraries, including the Central branch at the municipal center, which will be closed on Fridays.

Douglas County Libraries (DCL) are also facing cutbacks following the failure of a 2008 mill levy ballot measure to fund libraries. As of early March, it appeared that the district not only will not build a new library in Parker but also may close some satellite libraries and cut hours at branch libraries.

Last December, in a bittersweet edition of his regular online column LaRue’s Views, DCL’s Director Jamie LaRue said, “Not only will we not be growing, it’s time to trim our sails.”

A public meeting to discuss DCL’s budget cutting options will be held Thursday, March 19, 7 p.m., at the Philip S. Miller Library, 100 S. Wilcox, in Castle Rock, according to DCL Publicity and Outreach Coordinator Kristin Hayek.

Funding cutbacks for libraries are a problem nationwide. U.S.A. Today reported in February 2009 that the nation’s oldest library, built in 1743 in Darby, Pennsylvania, may have to close this year due to budget problems. Benjamin Franklin helped establish the first free public library in Pennsylvania in 1731.  Does this have Franklin “spinning in his grave” as one library executive said in the U.S.A. Today article?

Maybe not.  Franklin might be pleased by what is happening in Adams County’s Rangeview Library District. According to LibraryJournal.com, Rangeview is so thankful for the 2008 passage of its mill levy that it is permanently waiving fines to make borrowing easier for its patrons.

Alicia Rudnicki©, Denver Library Examiner, Examiner.com, 2009

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