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Date of Issue: October 04, 2007

County cuts library hours

Island Branch Library patrons will encounter an abridged schedule beginning in November.

Manatee County officials announced changes to the public library system schedule following the board of commissioner’s adoption of a 2007-08 budget on Sept. 25.

“Due to the recent state-mandated budget reductions, the Manatee County Public Library System will be reducing operating hours at five of its six library locations,” read a statement from the county.

The new hours take effect Nov. 3.

The following is the revised schedule for the Island Branch Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach:

  • Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sundays, closed.
  • Mondays and Wednesdays, noon to 8 p.m.
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The change in hours - shorter days on Mondays and Wednesdays - will require adjustments in several regular programs at the Island Branch. An Internet for beginners class typically takes place on Monday mornings, as does the monthly meeting of the Gulf Coast Writers. The Friends of the Island Library book club meets on Wednesday mornings.

The new hours also take effect as the busy winter season begins at the library.

“We’re going to accommodate everyone the best we can,” said branch supervisor Ava Ehde.

Friends of the Library vice president Beverly Neville said the support asked county officials to consider shortening library hours in the evening rather than in the morning, when the Island library seems busiest.

“We know hours had to be cut,” she said. “But we had hoped the hours cut here would be in the evening. We need the morning hours.”

Neville said the hours might be adjusted later in the year.

“The library has worked so well through everybody working together,” she said.

The county library system also lost five positions in the 2007-08 budget, but the Island Branch Library did not experience personnel cuts.

Still to come for the new fiscal year may be cuts systemwide to the budget for resources, including books, CDs and DVDs, said Manatee County library services manager John Van Berkel.

Van Berkel said the state likely will reduce library grant funding that is generated by sales tax revenue. The state proposes to cut about $5 million in funding overall for libraries and Van Berkel estimated that Manatee County could lose about $80,000.

“We’re hoping that’s the worst case,” he said.

Library patrons said last week that the shortened hours might be an inconvenience for some, but cuts to new resource materials would be worse.

“I’ve been involved in libraries before and once you get behind on a collection, it is so hard to catch up,” said Anna Maria resident Pauline Woolsey.

“We have a spectacular library system in Manatee, and really all of Florida,” said Mike Kramer of Perico Island. “What a shame it would be if we under-funded them.”