That may help you understand the lack of new books in our libraries. Our budget is primarily one of fixed expenses. Those include the electric and water bills, personnel costs, funds to maintain and keep the bookmobile on the road, telephone and Internet bills, insurance, and maintenance and upkeep on the buildings. The book budget is just about the only line item that is adjustable depending upon the available funding.
Libraries throughout the state are having the same problems. Traditionally, the public libraries are used more during poor economic times. So, at a time when more and more people are taking advantage of what public libraries have to offer them, many public libraries are cutting staff, opening fewer hours a week and reducing their book budgets.
Along with purchasing fewer books, we are not planning on filling a vacant staff position for a while. We hope we won’t have to consider other measures to get us through the year. At this time, we don’t have plans to reduce the number of hours our libraries are open or to cut back on our other services. With the size of our County, a bookmobile is necessary. And, we would like to continue to offer children’s programming.
Some of our citizens have had to cancel their home Internet access. Our Internet computers were used over 40,000 times last year. People are using them to apply for jobs, do research for business and school, stay in contact with family members, and type resumes and research papers. Where would they go if we had to cut hours?
You might consider me a pessimistic optimist. I worry about things that might happen but believe that everything will work out for the best. I have a hard time believing that something is impossible to do. I don’t think the economy will be very much better next year but even though the library in Lumberton needs a new roof, I think our library staff will be here giving you the service you expect from us.
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Shelly Lane, the head of our Children’s Library, and Jersey Mike’s Subs in Pembroke are working together to raise some funds for the Youth Services Department of the Library. If you eat at Jersey Mike’s Subs Tuesday, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., 20 percent of your total food bill will be donated to the Library. Jersey Mike’s is located at 409 W. 3rd St. in Pembroke.
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If you haven’t already, you should start planning to attend the “Rumba on the Lumber.” It’s just a little over a month away.
Bob Fisher is the director of the Robeson County Public Library. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org