Journal Register News Service

PHOENIXVILLE - Effective immediately, the Phoenixville Public Library will be closed every Wednesday, according to the library's Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees recently approved operating budget cuts for 2010, which includes the closing of Wednesday as well as eliminating three staff positions.

"These cuts were extremely difficult," Board president Susan Meadows said. "The library was forced to address an $80,000 shortfall."

There have been significant cuts to the state library subsidy, along with the educational improvement tax credit program, Access PA, which is the state reimbursement for serving customers outside the library's service area, and county funding, which are established in late October.

Along with an increase in health insurance costs, the library had no choice but to make deeper cuts in its operating budget for the current fiscal year by cutting staff and hours of operation.

After a review of current programs and services it became necessary to vote for a solution that allowed the library to balance its budget while still maintaining quality access to information for the Phoenixville community.

"The collection budget has been cut, part-time hours of some of the staff have been reduced, and the library will be closed on Wednesdays effective November 25, said John Kelley, executive director.

"Every day is busy at the library, but statistically Wednesday is our slowest day," Kelley said. "This closure will also affect children's programs. The library's new hours will be Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The funding of libraries is very complex because the library draws from many different sources to make its budget." Kelley said that public libraries are primarily funded by a local source and then they supplement this amount with state, county and private funds.

"We are fortunate to have the Phoenixville Area School District as our local government funding source," he said. "They approved a small funding increase for the library for the current fiscal year. This was commendable for them as educational leaders, and very helpful for the library's programs and services for the community. Unfortunately the state cuts were too steep to change the outcome for this year."

The library's circulation is up almost 14 percent over the past two years with circulation approaching 300,000 items annually. Phoenixville is the third busiest public library in Chester County.

"We average some 130 holds a day on our materials, and people are standing in line to use our computers," Kelley said. "For the month of October, there were 65 educational children's programs, including outreach, with nearly 2,500 people in attendance. The adult programs drew over 250 people."

Kelley said that the board of trustees is very concerned over the impact that this funding cut will have on the Phoenixville community, and will continue to seek new revenue streams for the operation of the library, while attempting to strengthen existing ones.

"While our hours of operation will be less, our quality of service and educational programming will continue to be strong," he said. "It is my hope that if our funding situation improves we can restore some, if not all of these hours. In the interim, inter-library loan borrowing and sharing of some resources among the County-wide System member libraries will increase as we, and other county libraries, will be buying fewer materials."

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