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Published: Thursday, 1/15/2009

Wood County library to cut hours, boost fines on Feb. 1


BOWLING GREEN - Patrons of the Wood County District Public Library will see reduced hours and higher fines beginning Feb. 1.

In the face of state budget cuts that could amount to $150,000 this year, library trustees yesterday approved a list of changes for the main library in Bowling Green and its lone branch in Walbridge.

"We're trying not to lay anyone off, but if there are positions we cannot support that aren't crucial to our core services, those positions will be eliminated," Library Director Elaine Paulette said. "The savings will come from [reduced] utilities during the hours we're closed, but also from personnel reductions."

Effective next month, the main library will open at 10 a.m. rather than 9 a.m. Monday through Saturday. It will remain open until 8:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, but close at 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and at 5 p.m. Saturday. It will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

In Walbridge, the branch will be open from 1 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, be closed Friday, and open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

"We've tried to reduce the number of hours that are slowest in terms of patron traffic so that we don't hurt the patrons any more than is absolutely necessary and so that we don't hurt staff any more than we have to," Ms. Paulette said.

The library has 41 full-time and part-time employees - down from 54 last year.

Fines for overdue materials, which have been 10 cents a day since 1977, will jump to 25 cents a day. Patrons who ask for interlibrary loans that require mailing will be charged $2 for postage, and patrons who accumulate fines of $1 won't be able to borrow materials until the fine is paid.

Ms. Paulette said the library wants to encourage patrons to return materials on time in part because the library will be purchasing very few new materials in the new year.

She said the timing for the reductions is difficult because library usage has been at an all-time high. When the economy is bad, library usage increases.

Still, Ms. Paulette said the library has adjusted hours and staffing before, during the '70s energy crisis. "We've been here before, and we'll find our way through it and get on the other side of it," she said.

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