In a unanimous decision, the Charleston County Public Library’s Board of Trustees has opted to face budget cuts by closing its five regional branches on Sundays and closing the Main Library on Calhoun Street an hour earlier Monday through Thursday. The cutbacks will begin April 1.
The five regional branches — Mt. Pleasant Regional, St. Andrew’s Regional, Dorchester Road Regional, Otranto Road Regional, and Johns Island Regional — are currently open from 2-5 p.m. during the school year and closed Sundays during the summer. The Main Library is currently open until 9 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., but will now be closing at 8 p.m. to match the hours of the three main branches and the regional branches. The Main Library will remain open on Sundays.
These changes follow drastic budget cuts from both contributors to the County Library, Charleston County and the state. Funding from the state has fallen from $697,430 to $409,160 in a two-year period, and county funding has dropped nearly $410,000 since last year.
In 2009, faced with similar funding failures, the library issued a hiring freeze. This has left worries that library patrons are not being adequately helped due to the lack of employees, according to a release from the library. The hour cuts will allow greater options in scheduling and alleviate some of this concern.
“This is a tough decision, especially at a time when we’re facing double-digit increases in service demand because the public needs libraries more now than ever,” says Board Chairman Jeanne Holladay. “They come to us for help in researching jobs openings, to use computers to submit job applications, to get resume assistance and for training to improve their computer skills so they can get or keep a job.”
The Friends of the Charleston Library suggests a few steps for concerned citizens: write a letter of support to your county representative, attend library programs, become a Friend of the Library, and shop at Friends book sales. The next big book sale is March 6-7 at the Navy Yard at Noisette.