Because of profound city budget cuts, The Ferguson Library will reduce hours at the main library and branches as of September 13. The Library Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to make the cuts in order to close a $1.2 million budget deficit.
“We deeply regret having to reduce public service. It’s a painful decision no library ever wants to make,” said Ferguson Library Board of Trustees Chair George Harvey, “but given the financial realities, we had no choice.”
In addition to reducing hours, the library will lay off ten to twelve full-time employees and a still undetermined number of part-time staff. Management and supervisory staff have taken salary cuts and unpaid furloughs to help make up the deficit.
The library has been working hard to cut expenses and raise money in the face of reduced city support. Last year, the Ferguson raised nearly $750,000 (about ten percent of its budget) from donations, fines, rental income from Starbucks, and passport services. None of these efforts has come close to raising the $1.2 million the library needs to keep operating at current levels. The Ferguson has also requested that the Board of Representatives enact a special ‘library fund’ to close the budget gap. If this is successful, the hours of operation will be restored to the extent of the funding received.