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Library advocates argue for funds

Claim cuts ironic in light of regionalization push

People check out whatís available at last weekendís book sale at the Joshua Hyde Library in Sturbridge. Such sales are a common way libraries raise funds for things they otherwise canít afford from state or local budget funds. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
February 07, 2010
CHARLTON — Librarians might have the stereotype of being meek, quiet types, but they certainly threw the book at the region's state legislative delegation Friday while arguing against cuts in the governor's budget proposal.

"We do a lot for a little, and all we ask is that state and local officials continue to support library funding," said Mary Rose Quinn of the state Board of Library Commissioners. "We're at the breaking point now and can't continue to supply the services" if such a cut happens.

Specifically, the breakfast gathering at the Charlton Public Library was upset at Gov. Deval Patrick's plan to slash about $3.5 million from statewide funding. They argue it would essentially kill off the regional sharing network through which residents can get materials from any participating town, rather than be limited to just what their own library can stock.

Several present noted an irony in doing that, arguing the network could be a model for how the state can promote regionalization for other expensive services.

"That's the very model we'll lose with cuts in funding," said Celeste Bruno, the board's official spokesman. She had previously said the libraries recognize the poor economy is hitting everyone, so they're "pretty much looking for level funding."

Even that will be a challenge, however, since library use on average has risen about 6 percent in the past year, with several places seeing hikes of more than 20 percent, she added. Others observed that many people are coming for help with resumes and other job search concerns, while some get aid with learning English and other skills.

For more on this story, please see Monday's Southbridge Evening News.

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