Libraries brace for funding loss

Libraries like the Missouri River Regional Library could lose tens of thousands in state funding if recent cuts are sustained.

At least one mid-Missouri library has already canceled orders after Gov. Jay Nixon withheld state funding for public libraries.

Karen Hayden, the director of the Little Dixie Regional Library, told KRCG 13 Wednesday she canceled standing orders for some new audio books and CDs after the funding was withheld earlier this summer. She said her library system could lose about $50,000 if the cuts are maintained. That would lead to delays in replacing old materials or adding new ones, or cutting back on programs. If the cuts go on long enough, she said the library might have to reduce its operating hours or even its staff, though she added that was a worst-case scenario.

â??Cutting staff is not good, but if youâ??re cutting hours, you cut staff,â?? Hayden said. â??But weâ??re pretty bare-bones staff right now.â??

Gov. Nixon withheld more than $1 billion from the stateâ??s 2015 budget at the end of June, citing concerns about sales tax cuts. That included some $6.6 million for public libraries across the state. The figure includes $3.5 million in general aid and $3.1 million for Internet and technology access.

The loss of funding will not affect all library systems equally. Daniel Boone Regional Library Director Melissa Carr said although her system could lose $118,000 in funding, that money represents a little more than 1 percent of its budget. She said some library directors have told her state money makes up as much as 10 to 15 percent of their budgets.

â??$118,000 is a lot of money and purchases a lot of books and materials for our library, but the percentage is much larger for some of these smaller libraries,â?? she said.

Carr said her library, which serves Boone and Callaway counties, has not yet decided what services it will need to cut, if any, when it finalizes its budget in November.

If the cuts are sustained, spending on library materials would most likely be cut first, according to Claudia Schoonover, interim director of the Missouri River Regional Library. Her library could lose $60,000 if the cuts are sustained. That could impact anything from buying new materials to building maintenance. She did not rule out personnel cuts but emphasized reducing staff would be a last resort. Schoonover said her library is taking a wait-and-see approach for now, though its next budget has been prepared assuming state funding will not be available.

Hayden said the Little Dixie Regional Library has not yet made any further cuts beyond her order cancelation. Gov. Nixon has said the funding would be restored if the legislature sustains his vetoes of several tax breaks.