Declining revenue, fewer staff members result in reduction of hours for Tallmadge Branch Library

by Holly Schoenstein | reporter Published:

Tallmadge -- Starting Jan. 6, patrons of the Tallmadge Branch Library will notice some changes, including reduced hours and rescheduling of some programs.

The new library hours will be from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; noon to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. The new hours are 14 percent less than what they were previously, according to Akron-Summit County Public Library Director David Jennings.

The more limited hours of the Tallmadge Branch is only one result of five years of declining revenue and reductions of staff for the entire library system, says Jennings. Akron-Summit County Public Library consists of the Main Library, 17 branches and three Mobile Services vehicles.

"With the latest reduction in state funding expected for 2014, our hours of service must now be adjusted to compensate for our reduced staffing level and to enable us to continue to provide excellence in our services and programs," Jennings said. "The changes to hours of operation are based on a review of usage patterns and staff observation. We chose these hours to make our budget and staffing work and to have the least impact upon our services to the public."

The hours of operation for the Main Library in Akron will be reduced by 16 percent, and the Saturday bookmobile service will be canceled. The bookmobile didn't have any stops in Tallmadge.

In 2008, the library system had a total revenue of $26.8 million, while its estimated revenue for 2014 is $22.4 million, a decrease of 16 percent, according to Jennings.

He attributes the decline in revenue to a combination of loss of funding from the state and a reduction in value of the library's 1.4-mill property tax levy.

The state gave the library system $14.2 million in funding in 2008, and for 2014, the estimate is $3.5 million less, or $10.7 million, he said.

Jennings said the majority of the loss of state funding was because of budget cuts at the state level in 2009, and the projected decrease in state funding for this year is the result of changes to the state taxation system. In the area of service for the library system alone, the devaluation of local property accounts for a loss of about $1 million in revenue from the levy, he said.

Although the declining revenues haven't prompted the library system to lay off employees, attrition has shrunk the staff by 77 since 2009, which has saved it $2.6 million in personnel costs. In Tallmadge, two of its 16 employees left, and no layoffs are anticipated, he said.

"Over the past five years, we have reduced every area of the budget, realigned our work and stretched resources to accommodate reduced funding," Jennings said.

Only one program at the Tallmadge Branch has been canceled -- Self-Hypnosis at 7 p.m. on Jan. 22 -- and others have been rescheduled. Call the library at 330-633-4345 or check its website at tallmadgebranch.akronlibrary.org to confirm dates and times. All programming will remain free of charge for participants.

The date for Coffee with Tallmadge Express Editor Jaime Gerard will change from the third Wednesday of the month to the third Tuesday of the month, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., starting Jan. 21.

Contact this reporter at 330-541-9428 or hschoenstein@recordpub.com

Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.

Twitter: @SchoensteinH

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