NEW CASTLE Budget cuts cause library to alter hours

The library is asking patrons to urge the governor to restore funding.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- The New Castle Public Library is again changing its hours in response to state budget cuts.
Librarian Susan Walls said the library's board of directors met Monday night and revamped the schedule that will go into effect Monday. A previous schedule change expected to go into effect next week did not offer enough options, Walls said.
The library will be open 10 fewer hours than the current schedule for a total of 44.5 hours each week.
Two employees will be furloughed effective Monday and several others had their hours cut from full-time to part-time, she said.
Those eliminated were a circulation clerk and the county coordinator for children's programs.
Reason for changes
Walls said state budget cuts forced the changes.
These are just the most recent set of changes at the library. Officials first made cuts in July 2003 when district library funding was cut. New Castle serves as a district center for Lawrence, Mercer, Butler and Armstrong counties and receives special funding each July.
Hours of operation were reduced and some employees were furloughed or worked reduced schedules.
The second set of cuts at the library going into effect Monday are the result of local library funding cuts in state budget. Gov. Ed Rendell has cut overall aid to libraries by 37.5 percent.
Walls said that equates to $100,000 lost in state aid for the New Castle Public Library. The district library funding was cut by $239,000.
She said they don't expect that money to be reinstated in the 2005 state budget which is going to be introduced this spring. Walls said they have heard there will only be a 10-percent increase in library funding over the state's 2004 budget.
The librarian said they do have a petition for patrons to sign at the front desk asking that library funding be fully restored. It will be sent to the governor.
"We want to show him that people do care about their public libraries," Walls said.