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Will our libraries make it through the recession?

My latest post for Northwest Asian Weekly.

During these trying economic times, organizations have dealt with budget cuts, often leading to reduced hours of operation and elimination of positions, programs, and services.

The Seattle Public Library (SPL) is no exception.

Officials have had to cut the library’s 2010 budget by $3 million, leaving roughly $49 million. SPL Communications Director Andra Addison said this money is mainly used for two things: operational costs such as library staff and resources for patron use, such as books, DVDs, and electronic services. In addition, a small amount of the budget is set aside for utilities and other fixed expenses.

In an effort to save money this year, Addison said SPL has eliminated positions and cut the resource budget from roughly $5.7 million to $5.2 million. Operating hours have also been reduced — 15 of the library’s 27 branches are now closed every Friday and Sunday — and SPL will shut down from Aug. 30 to Sept. 6 to help make up for the $3 million shortfall.

Addison, who has been with SPL for 15 years, said the library’s budget has had both increases and cuts over the last 10 years. However, in recent years, there have been more cuts.

“We’ve been pretty lean the last several years because of the prolonged economic downturn,” she said.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

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