CHARLESTON, W.Va. – More cuts, in programming, are on the way to Kanawha County’s libraries.

Library Director Alan Engelbert announced Thursday in order to keep the children’s program intact, they are scaling back hours effective Monday, January 6.

“We are reducing the hours from 64 to 48 per week,” according to Engelbert. “That’s because we’ve had staff resignations and we’re simply unable to staff that department all of the hours that it ordinarily would be open.”

The children’s department will be open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“It does preserve as much access as we can. It does preserve the bulk of the programming we do for children, which is a very important role of the library,” said Engelbert.

The library will no longer offer Books ‘n’ More story time on Thursday evening and the Family STEM program will be moving to Saturday.

Engelbert said they can’t continue offering the same amount of programs when they just don’t have the same amount of staff.

“We are down from approximately 165 staff when I first came here to about 125 right now,” explained Engelbert.

He said the cut in the children’s program is indirectly due to the failed school and library levy last year. Come July 1, the library will no longer receive 40 percent of its budget from the Kanawha County School System. The passage of the levy would have given the library system $3 million a year to make up for that loss.

“Since we know these cuts are coming, it makes it difficult to impossible to go out and ask people to come work here until we know precisely what is going to happen with the various services and branches and facilities,” stressed Engelbert.

Late last year the library announced it was cutting hours at its Sissonville branch. That went into place Thursday with the hours of operation going from 39 a week to 30. Engelbert said they’ve also closed the main library’s Technology Center to all but special public programs that involve the use of multiple computers.

As for more cuts to library programs, Engelbert said that depends on the library’s workforce. If there are more retirements, more services could be cut. He explained Thursday the St. Albans branch of the library is shutting down at 5 p.m. because two library employees were out sick with the flu.

“We’re just so thin that when anything happens like a retirement or people getting a cold, these kinds of changes to hours could happen.”

Engelbert said the library board is working on ways to balance their budget without the school funding. They are looking for other sources of income.

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  • Patricia B

    As a former library employee in Missouri with Director Alan Englebert, I support his stand on maintaining at least as much of children's programming and services as possible with limited staff and funds. Yes, some children have Wikipedia at home as well as video GAMES, etc, but very few will have the access to the richess of youth library materials as well as interaction within the library for services and programs as before. Do what you must, but retain the value of library services as fully as possible for all.

  • Jason412

    Yeah, Lord knows children don't need to read books, they can just read wikipedia articles.

    And as we all know, S. WV is an area where the families have unlimited wealth so I'm sure every kid not only has a computer at home, but a tablet and smartphone. Not to mention the families have no problem paying a $50+ a month internet bill. I'm sure absolutely not 1 single kid in Kanawha county doesn't have internet access at home.

    Once again, West Virginian's prove just how much they value education.

  • DWL

    google it. Turn the lights off and lock the doors on the way out. Libraries are the homeless shelters for the daylight hours.

  • Jephre

    Not to worry, that levy will be on a ballot every few months until it passes.

  • Uncle SAM

    I and only I will tell you what you need and what you can to read.. Church Lady, your still stuck in 1984...

  • Polly the Pundit

    Curious as to why on the Sissonville Branch's hours were cut...perhaps some sort of retaliation for lack of levey support?-?-?

  • Big Deal

    This only affects the bums.

  • Church Lady

    Darn libraries! Who needs 'em? The only book we need is The Holy Bible!