The Impact of Budget Cuts

Unfortunately, the most vulnerable will be the most affected by further reductions in the library budget.

The cuts made during the recession have not been restored. The only place to further reduce the libraries’ budget is through additional reductions in library staff, services and hours.

Although we have not seen the specific areas targeted for reduction, we anticipate that the number of staff will be reduced, hours of operation will be cut back again, and the print and electronic collection will not grow to meet user demand. The long waiting times for best-selling e-books and audiobooks will continue. Security of staff, volunteers and users could be jeopardized. Sunday hours and the return of interlibrary loan services will not be restored.

For some people in Sarasota County, further budget cuts at our libraries may not pose a severe hardship if they have Internet access at their home or office. Most of these individuals can purchase a book when they want one.

Currently, nearly 20% of the homes in Sarasota County do not have internet service. Thousands of people depend on our libraries every day for free internet service to search for jobs and update resumes, to complete homework assignments, to access government benefit programs and to communicate with family and friends. Many use library services and attend programs to start small businesses. On Sundays, when libraries are closed, you can see people seated outside using the free wifi service.

Hundreds more visit our libraries every day to get information, to learn from a program, to get help with technology or simply to escape the isolation of living alone. These residents will experience fewer hours of service and fewer staff to assist them.

A week at our 10 County Libraries:

353 people receive new library cards

53,457 items borrowed

4,655 computer sessions completed

3,225 people get technology assistance

15,361 web site visits

5,406 requests for information filled

1,980 people attend programs

1,094 hours donated by volunteers