Cumberland Times-News

Local News

March 30, 2013

Library requests a small increase

Director: More use and low pay are weighing heavily on system

CUMBERLAND  — In-creased use of library facilities and salaries that are low compared to other Maryland communities are challenging the Allegany County Library System, said John Taube, the library system’s director.

“The issue we are facing is that traditional sources of finding do not help us keep up with demand,” Taube said.

Staff members, for instance, are answering 60 percent more questions over the past year and program attendance has jumped.

“The recession of the last five years has been a challenge for the library system. We have seen tremendous growth in the demand for library services and resources,” Taube said.

“We’ve lost two young and energetic staff members,” Taube said.

They went on to comparable positions at libraries with higher pay scales, Taube said.

 “Those resignations are the kind of people we want to keep.”

Librarians with more experience can make a 20 percent higher salary in similar jurisdictions, which Taube compared.

The comparison counties included Washington, Garrett, Wicomico, Somerset and Baltimore City.

The last three were used in the comparison because they “are closest to us in state assessments of poverty as measured by per capita library funding,” Taube said.

 Taube pointed out that the library has moved to cut expenses, including a reduction in library hours.

Despite the reduction in hours, circulation of items has increased 22 percent, Taube said.

At the same time, the number of items being checked out has grown.

For instance, in 2009, about 50,000 items were checked out from the library syste. That number grew to more than 57,000 in 2012, Taube said.

Taube spoke to county commissioners at Thursday’s budget hearing, which took place at county commission offices on Kelly Road.

County funding for the library has continued at $905,000 since at least fiscal year 2011.

The library’s proposed budget seeks a 2 percent wage increase for staff, while reducing or holding steady in all other spending categories, Taube said. That request adds up to an additional $35,000 from the county.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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