DECATUR - The Decatur Public Library announced wide-ranging cuts and layoffs Tuesday in the face of a city council decision to cut nearly $400,000 from its budget in the upcoming year and $100,000 in money owed the library by the state that has yet to appear.
An e-mail from city librarian Lee Ann Fisher to library personnel obtained Tuesday by the Herald & Review indicates the library will be laying off 11 workers, discontinuing bookmobile services and closing the library annex.
"This has been a difficult decision and one the board has not made lightly," Fisher said in the e-mail.
The 11 positions include several clerical workers, a senior custodian, a driver and the head of the library's extension department, which deals chiefly with the bookmobiles. Union contract stipulations could change the positions that ultimately are cut.
The library also will stop collecting from the 12 collection points throughout the city and has reduced its budget for purchasing new materials by 10 percent.
Union leaders are scheduled to meet with library administrators today to go over the cuts, union representative Victor Osuna said
"It's a tough situation all the way around," Osuna said. "What upsets everybody is that, last year, when the library took a cut, the city turned around this year and gave them an even bigger cut. For every employee this affects, it's going to affect a lot more citizens of Decatur."
Osuna said many children and elderly citizens likely will be disappointed with the discontinuation of the bookmobiles.
"The bookmobiles are going to affect a lot of kids and the elderly," Osuna said. "That's going to be unpopular for many people. A lot of these people don't have transportation."
Fisher said despite being painful, the cuts were unavoidable.
"It's a simple fact the money's not going to be there May 1," Fisher said. "We were already running on a shoestring from the previous year's cuts."
Fisher said that in decades working as a librarian, she has never had to lay off staff. She said less money set aside for purchasing materials could mean longer waiting lists for new, popular items.
"It means patrons will be waiting longer to get things," Fisher said. "It means thinking a little bit more about every purchase."
Fisher said it is not yet clear exactly how staff cuts are going to affect library operations.
"If people aren't happy with the cuts in service they see at the library, they should contact their city council members," she said.