VIA WASHINGTON POST:
The D.C. bookmobile will be parked, neighborhood libraries will close on Sundays and all city libraries will close on Monday holidays beginning Oct. 5 to help save $4.8 million, as the District tries to cope with its budget crunch.
The library cutbacks are one of a number of service reductions that District residents will feel when the 2010 fiscal year begins Oct. 1. As in most jurisdictions in the Washington region, the city’s revenue is down because of the recession. So city leaders had to find ways to close a potential $666 million budget gap over three years, pushing the Fenty administration to cut spending plans for all departments and the council to raise sales and cigarette taxes.
Ginnie Cooper, the D.C. Public Library’s chief librarian, said Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and council members had to make the tough decision to slash the library budget by 11 percent, to $40 million. But, she said, the agency hopes to provide adequate services with the help of volunteers and by opening Martin Luther King Jr. Library, the central library, on Sundays so the public has seven days of access to the system.
Currently, the system opens all the neighborhood libraries on Sundays, and one in each ward on Monday holidays. Cooper said that is no longer possible with the budget cuts.
Instead of sparsely staffing all 25 libraries, she said, the city will focus on offering its books, computers and research materials at King. The King library has “Metro accessibility, and it’s busy on Sundays,” Cooper said. “People make it a destination.”
“We’re very pleased that we still have service seven days a week,” she said. “A lot of our colleagues around the country can’t say that.”
But the downtown library will also have some hours reduced. On Mondays and Tuesdays, it will open from noon to 9 p.m. instead of 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The city’s only bookmobile, which is called the Xtreme Mobile, went to about 15 schools this fiscal year. “Instead, that staff will go to the libraries” while continuing to visit schools and provide literacy programs, Cooper said.
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