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More program cuts coming to Kanawha County’s library

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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