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Amid Possible Budget Cuts, Parker Hopes Clarion County Library System Doesn’t ‘Slowly Bleed to Death’
“We don’t want to see another cut, and we’d like to see it back where it was before they cut it,” Library System Executive Director Dan Parker said. “People need their libraries. In these poor, rural counties, libraries are that much more important.”
The library system suffered a 10 percent cut in funding for 2017, which resulted in the reduction of children’s programs at some libraries and the elimination of a staff position at another.
Between 2012 to 2016, county funds provided to the library system ranged from $40,000.00 to $43,000.00; however, in 2017, the allocation dropped to $38,700.00.
The county’s contribution is especially important because it helps leverage money from the state, according to Parker.
“We’re just hoping we’re not going to slowly bleed to death,” Parker said.
On Wednesday, Commissioner Ed Heasley may have offered a glimmer of hope to Parker and the library system when he said that it’s unlikely that the county would cut its allocation to the library.
Despite Heasley’s positive outlook, he admits nothing is set in stone.
“We have a lot of work to do with the budget. There are increases in health care and pensions, so we’ll see,” Heasley said.
Commissioner Ted Tharan said they haven’t looked at economic funding in the budget process.
“It will probably be the next step in the process,” Tharan said. “It’s hard to tell what will happen.”
Established in 1961, the Clarion County Library System grants money to its member libraries for operations, children’s programs, and technology.
The system includes the Clarion Free Library, the Eccles-Lesher Memorial Library in Rimersburg, the Foxburg Free Library, the Knox Public Library, and the Redbank Valley Public Library.
Parker said he became very concerned about future cuts when the library system wasn’t asked to make a budget proposal, which it typically does.
“We’re usually invited to submit a proposal, but when we weren’t this year, we became very concerned,” Parker said. “It seems like they may have already made their minds up.”
Parker firmly believes libraries are still important community resources.
“We provide access to traditional resources such as books, magazines, and newspapers. Libraries also provide internet access, a computer, early learning and school readiness programs, parenting classes, teen programs, help with homework, adult literacy programs, and large print resources,” said Parker.
Parker added, “Libraries thrive or die based on the funding they receive from local government and fundraising from local donations. That money is necessary to receive state aid, and the amount our system receives is directly related to its local fundraising.”
Parker is asking the community to help the county’s libraries by writing letters of support to the Clarion County Commissioners, 330 Main Street, 2nd Floor, Clarion, Pa. 16214.
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