Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

County Commission to close Pasco libraries on Mondays

DADE CITY — Commissioners said they didn't want to do it, but they had no choice.

To help make up for a projected $2 million budget shortfall this year, they reluctantly voted to close Pasco County libraries on Mondays.

"It's not what any of us want to do," said Commissioner Michael Cox. "But it's the fiscally conservative thing we must do."

The move comes as libraries face a triple whammy: the state's property tax rollback, Amendment 1 and a dismal economy.

"It's so depressing," library system director Linda Allen said after the meeting.

In a Feb. 17 memo, Allen said the library system had to freeze 17 vacant positions. Of those, nine were professional librarians.

"In order for libraries to continue to operate with this level of staff reduction, we are recommending that all libraries' public service locations be moved to a 40-hour-per-week public schedule, which would include being closed on Mondays."

Each branch will be open until 8 p.m. once a week. All branches would open at 10 a.m. Each branch will remain open on Saturdays. Libraries are closed on Sundays.

Allen said Monday was picked after considering every option, including rotating the day the branches would be closed.

But no one they asked liked that idea, she said.

Being closed an extra day is expected to save the county $472,320 this fiscal year, though rising utility rates might wipe out some of that savings.

Allen said she doesn't expect next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, to be much better as the county has to plug a $30 million budget hole.

The library has also done other things to save money. Last April, it cut back operating times by one hour each day. It also cut in half the number of days patrons could keep materials from 28 to 14 in hopes to keeping more items in circulation.

Allen said Tuesday the library system has reduced by 11 percent its programming, for which has won national awards.

"Those out-of-the-box programs where we have speakers may be okay, but things that are intensive for staff time are probably not going to happen," she said.

Allen said the library has made good use of volunteers, but they are limited in what jobs they can do because of legal constraints and because of the advanced training necessary.

"Even our library assistants have four-year degrees," she said.

An economic downturn is a tough time to reduce library services because it's when people need them the most, said Commissioner Ann Hildebrand, who called the system "the shining star" of the county.

County figures show circulation of materials is up 27 percent from last year, while Internet sign-ups are up 11 percent and the number of card-carrying patrons is up 6 percent, to 227,053.

"That's the irony of what we're facing," Hildebrand said.

Allen said she hopes the moves will be temporary.

"We want to come back — with an expanded schedule," she said.

Until then, west Pasco bibliophiles can find some refuge from the Monday closings at the New Port Richey Library. The library, which is run by the city, has a reciprocal agreement with the county system.

Any county resident may use that library, at 5939 Main St. in New Port Richey, said Ann Scott, outreach director. It's open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

"All they need to do is show their library card and an ID and we'll give them a card," she said. "We'd love to have them come to our library."

Lisa Buie can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 909-4604.

County Commission to close Pasco libraries on Mondays 03/10/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 9:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Editorial: Trump owes apology to fallen soldier's Miami family


    There is no more sacred, solemn role for a president than to comfort grieving family members of soldiers who have given their lives in service of their country. Those calls cannot be easy, and some presidents are better at it than others. Yet President Donald Trump and his administration continue to engage in a …

  2. Lightning: Jon Cooper takes unusual tact to create mismatches

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Tyler Johnson is about to swing his left leg over the boards for his next shift alongside linemate Alex Killorn and ... whom else?

    Stamkos? Kucherov? Point?

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper argues the called as his team gets a faceoff violation, leading to penalty and #Caps PP goal, during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (10/09/17).DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  3. Hillsborough teachers get a hard no on scheduled pay raises


    The Hillsborough County School District cannot afford to advance teachers to their next year's pay levels, employee relations manager Mark West told the union at Monday afternoon's bargaining session.

    This might be the last teacher bargaining session in Hillsborough for awhile. Although the two sides are not officially at an impasse, the district says it cannot pay teachers their scheduled raises.
  4. Editorial: A neighborhood under attack unites


    Three murders in two weeks understandably have Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood on edge. But Tampa police and residents are working together to find the killer and are connecting in ways that will strengthen the community in the long run. This is the best reaction to the tragedy of the three deaths, and it should …

    Seminole Heights residents came together in a candlelight vigil Sunday night to pay respect to the families and to demonstrate that they will not be cowed into staying indoors.
  5. Students at middle school pretend to rape black classmates on Snapchat


    The Snapchat had just about every offensive topic the middle school students could cram into a video clip: race-based simulated sexual assaults, profanity-laced slurs and repulsive language that shocked whoever the intended audience was - and, eventually, many more people.

    Students at a Virginia middle school pretended to rape other students on video, which was shared on Snapchat. Reports say white members of a football team enacted the rape scenes while in the locker room. This photo of a standard locker room is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.