AP NEWS

Illinois libraries face budget challenges

March 23, 2019

QUINCY, Ill. (AP) — Budget concerns at libraries across Illinois are causing a variety of issues, including delayed building projects and cuts in staff, hours and new book purchases, officials say.

Belleville Public Library director Leander Spearman told The Herald-Whig that the library has delayed starting new programs and purchasing new materials. The library has a $1.2 million budget and employs 17 full-time and 12 part-time staff members.

“Programming for the public is something that we are always looking to add or change,” Spearman said. “Purchasing materials is something else I would be able to do if I had more money.”

The Rock Island Public Library has seen city funding frozen for the past five years, despite growing expenses in health insurance, vendor contracts and new material purchases, said Angela Campbell, the library’s executive director.

“It is a challenge,” Campbell said. “You really can’t expect any entity to run on the same money for years and years, while costs keep increasing.”

Campbell said she believes libraries are “essential services.”

“We may not be restoring life, but we are giving people hope who otherwise wouldn’t have hope by helping them apply for jobs, complete resumes, answer questions, and providing new books,” she said. “To us, those things are pretty essential.”

Park Ridge Library made cuts to hours, staff and programs five years ago, according to Heidi Smith, the library’s executive director. Park Ridge residents then approved a 2014 referendum that increased a tax for the library.

The library has since finished $2.4 million in renovations, restored hours of operations and started new programs.

ibraries across Illinois say tight budgets are delaying construction projects and reducing staff, hours and new book purchases.

Belleville Public Library director Leander Spearman tells The Herald-Whig that the library has delayed new programs and new material.

Rock Island Public Library executive director Angela Campbell says the library’s funding has been frozen for the past five years despite growing expenses, including vendor contracts and health insurance.

Heidi Smith, executive director of Park Ridge Library, says the library cut hours, staff and programs five years ago. Park Ridge residents then approved a tax increase to support the library.

The library has since finished $2.4 million in renovations, restored hours of operations and started new programs.

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Information from: The Quincy Herald-Whig, http://www.whig.com