If you’d like to email the Board of Supervisors about the effect these cuts will have on our rural population, their email addresses are included at the end of this story.
“Frazier Park Library hours will be reduced from five days to two days weekly effective August 1,” reports Diane Duquette, Kern County Library Director.
If the cuts stand, the library’s proposed new hours will be Tuesdays 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Though small, the Frazier Park Branch is nearly always busy, “and always has been,” said Judy Waters, who has worked there for 27 years. Because deep personnel cuts countywide will require staff to shift into new jobs, Waters said she may decide to retire.
The Mountain Community branch is not alone in suffering major impacts to hours and staffing as a result of county budget cuts. Twenty-five of Kern County’s 27 libraries are facing a 41 percent cut in hours.
Public Hearings July 20-22
The public will have a chance to speak out about the 31 percent reduction in staffing countywide, mandated by a $2 million loss to the library system’s budget.
“It’s a difficult situation with so many competing interests in a down economy,” Duquette said. She added that in 1987 the Kern County Library system offered about 68,000 hours of service to the public. The current 2009 service hours are being cut from about 45,000 to 27,000—”an historic low,” Duquette said.
The final budget hearings are scheduled for Monday, July 20 at 7 p.m. at the County Administrative Center (1115 Truxtun Ave.) in Bakersfield. Public input will also be accepted Tuesday and Wednesday July 21-22 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during hearings with department heads at the same location.
These hearings will help the Board of Supervisors decide if the proposed cuts to the county’s library system need to be reconsidered.
In an interview about the impact of county cutbacks on the library system, Duquette said the book acquisition budget in Kern County is now $100,000, compared with Las Vegas-Clark County (with a population comparable in size to Kern’s) that has a $12 million book budget.
She added that the building budget for the new Frazier Park Library is not affected by the emergency cuts and the building program is expected to proceed as planned. The bidding process has begun.
–By P. Hedlund and K. Penland
TO CONTACT THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:
John McQuiston < email@example.com>, Don Maben <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Mike Maggard <email@example.com>, Ray Watson <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Michael Rubio <email@example.com>
Don Maben 661-868-3660, Mike Maggard 868-3670, Ray Watson 868-3680, Michael Rubio 868-3690, John Mcquiston 868-3601
This is part of the July 17, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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