Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Shorter library hours draw sighs in Hernando

Pat Converse, 70, of Brooksville, looks through books at the Hernando County Main Library. In a move to cut costs, the library is employing fewer staffers and reducing hours.


Pat Converse, 70, of Brooksville, looks through books at the Hernando County Main Library. In a move to cut costs, the library is employing fewer staffers and reducing hours.

On any given day, Hernando County libraries are full of patrons, some sitting on cushy chairs reading the local newspaper, others browsing stacks of nonfiction and fiction books or conducting research at an open computer.

But in a sour economy, the library system, like other county departments, is trying to cut costs. Budget woes have forced the system to employ fewer staffers, reduce hours and close some locations on Saturdays, a popular day for families.

"I find it ironic that the county as well as the state is promoting this FCAT testing, especially for eighth-graders, and it seems that the library is where students go to read," said Peter Limberis, who sits on the county's Library Advisory Committee. "Now they're cutting our budget to the point that we have to cut hours."

Beginning Sept. 2, the Main Library and West Hernando Branch each dropped 14 hours from their weekly schedules and began closing on Saturdays. The Spring Hill and East Hernando branches will close on Mondays but remain open between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays. East Hernando has dropped 11 hours from its weekly schedule, while Spring Hill, one of the county's busiest libraries, has dropped 16.

Although patrons typically said they understood that the changes are necessary to keep pace with a dismal economy and the county's declining tax revenues, many shared their disappointment. Some pointed to Amendment 1, which altered the state's property tax system, as the culprit behind the county's budget problems.

"We're going backward instead of being able to maintain what we've built up all these years," said Barbara Shiflett, county library services director.

The next fiscal year will see a 12.31 percent reduction, or $356,510, in county funding for libraries, which includes cuts to postage, movie licensing, delivery of interlibrary loans, magazine subscriptions and education reimbursement and training. Patrons will receive e-mails rather than mailed notices for overdue books.

Friends of the Library, a volunteer group that supports the county library system, and state grants have picked up some of the slack, like maintaining equipment and electronic databases, and providing staff training. The cuts have eliminated the equivalent of 11.5 full-time positions, but the library's growing volunteer force — from 75 last year to 85 this year — has eased some of that burden, Shiflett said.

Michelle Ladines, a third-grade teacher at Chocachatti Elementary School, invites local librarians to talk to her students about using the public library. She said she and other teachers are concerned about the message that reducing library hours sends to students.

"Reading is the foundation for everything," said Ladines, 34. "So if we don't push the importance of reading, we're saying every subject is not important."

A handful of patrons thought reduced hours were a good idea.

"The staff, they're civil, but I can tell they're drained," said Marie Beam of Weekie Wachee.

Yet Beam, like 30-year-old Susan Griffin, hoped the West Hernando Branch would open at least once over the weekend.

"People work," said Griffin, while holding hands with her 4-year-old daughter, Alyssa. "They have to support their families."

>>Fast facts

New hours for county libraries

Main Library/Brooksville

238 Howell Ave.

Brooksville, FL 34601

(352) 754-4043

Monday — Noon to 8 p.m.

Tuesday through Friday — 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday — Closed

West Hernando branch

6335 Blackbird Ave.

Brooksville, FL 34613

(352) 540-6391

Monday — Noon to 8 p.m.

Tuesday through Friday — 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday — Closed

Spring Hill branch

9220 Spring Hill Drive

Spring Hill, FL 34608

(352) 540-6374

Monday — Closed

Tuesday — Noon to 8 p.m.

Wednesday through Saturday — 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

East Hernando branch

6457 Windmere Road

Brooksville, FL 34602

(352) 754-4443

Monday — Closed

Tuesday — Noon to 8 p.m.

Wednesday through Saturday — 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Rock Cannery Library Station

15487 Citrus Way

Brooksville, FL 34614

(352) 754-4043

Call for hours

Istachatta Library Station

16257 Lingle Road

Istachatta, FL 34636

(352) 540-4304

Wednesdays 1 to 4:30 p.m.

Shorter library hours draw sighs in Hernando 09/15/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 7:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals


    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. No lack of issues facing St. Petersburg's six council candidates


    ST. PETERSBURG — The six candidates for City Council gathered Monday evening in the very chamber to which they aspire to serve.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless in District 2; Jerick Johnston and incumbent council member Darden Rice in District 4; and Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll of District 6. All six candidates appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears


    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  4. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'


    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  5. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]