Reduced hours and less purchases of new books, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, movies and audio books appears to be in the future for the Havelock-Craven County Public Library.
Susan W. Simpson, director of the Craven-Pamlico-Carteret Public Library, said Friday that reduced hours at the Havelock branch would begin August 1.
The new schedule is 12 hours less per week than the facility had been operating.
The budget for the library for fiscal year 2014-15 is $158,836, which is $27,503 less than the 2012-14 budget of $186,339.
Simpson said that after cuts in book purchases, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, movies and audio book, the budget still could not be balanced.
“The only thing we had left to turn to was to look at operating hours at the library. We have been able to decrease the cost of our medical insurance, but that still wasn’t enough, so the only thing left to do was cut personnel hours and cut the operating hours of the library. We have not laid any employees off. We didn’t want to do that if we didn’t have to,” Simpson said. “We have an operating budget for the year. It’s pretty slender, but we can at least make it work on that.”
The library had requested $47,000 in support from Havelock’s board of commissioners, but the board opted to give only $4,000, which was enough to fund the month of July. Commissioners said at the time that they would discuss possibility of funding programs at the library but declined to pay for operational expenses like electricity and salaries, which, they said, should be paid for by Craven County.
Simpson said that she will be meeting with a committee established by the Craven County Board of Commissioners on Aug. 4 to discuss the possibility of receiving more support from Craven County. Members of the committee include Chairman Thomas F. Mark and commission members Scott C. Dacey and Theron McCabe.
“It’s not over yet,” said Commissioner McCabe. “I’m trying to get some money for the Havelock library. Right now we are trying to negotiate and give them something or nothing. I want to give them something. That library in Havelock has good attendance. I’ve seen a lot of kids in there reading books and using the computer. We need that library open and not taken away from the citizens of Havelock and Craven County.”
“Our goal is to just simply walk through what we understand the numbers are so that we are all on the same page,” said Commissioner Dacey. “At this stage in the discussions that I have had with the other two commissioners, I believe that our goal is to try to make certain that whatever solution is available yields the greatest number of hours of staying open and having the library made available to the public as possible.”
Luann Rottmann, corresponding secretary for the Friends of the Havelock-Craven County Public Library, said the $43,000 that Havelock has not funded is about 35 percent of the library’s budget.
“This affects more than just the purchase of books or magazines or DVDs,” Rottmann said. “It also affects the staff and the reduction of hours to the public being able to come and use the library.”
Rottmann said those who will be affected include persons using the library’s Internet access.
“Maybe they’re searching for employment. Maybe they are receiving a fax regarding a legal issue in their family. The reduced hours are making a big difference to them,” Rottmann said. “Another concern is the use of the facility as a meeting place. These hours certainly do affect the amount of time that people can come and use the library, either the building, the materials, ask questions of the staff and so forth.”
“I would urge all of our commissioners, and I’m talking about Havelock City commissioners as well as Craven County commissioners, to try to resolve this issue to the advantage of our people in Havelock that use this library,” Rottman said. “I think it’s important that people understand that where libraries thrive, communities thrive. That’s part of the basis of a strong community. If people could only write one letter I think they should write to Scott Dacey, who is a Craven County Commissioner and indicate their concern and urge all the commissioners to have some resolution in this matter.”
“The library is a resource for young and old. Especially in the summer time, the library needs to be open more hours,” said Stephen Farlee, of Havelock, who was in the library Friday with his grandson. “It’s a sad state of affairs that it is that way because everything’s getting cut except the things that are needed most by the powers that be. The ordinary common man has to take cutbacks and has to sacrifice.”
Madison Hurd, an Early College East student, was in the library Friday to do homework on line because her family doesn’t have Internet access at home.
“I would say that kids need to learn,” Hurd said. “They need the knowledge for when they get older. If we can’t get need books and stuff, then what are they using the money for?”
“If you don’t send more money to the library, then they are going to shut down and I don’t want them to shut down because there are important people that come here to get information,” said James Hurd.
The new library hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday and Saturday.