By Ty Gonrowski
Triplicate staff writer
In the wake of the failure of Measure A, the Del Norte County Library is cutting hours and services. The library board Wednesday voted to trim operating hours to 24 hours per week and also to eliminate the popular Wonder Bus program for children.
"There's no future stable funding, so something has got to go," library director Patty Hector said. Starting July 5, the library will be open five hours a day Tuesday through Friday and for four hours on Saturday.
The library is now open eight hours a day, Tuesday through Friday. The Wonder Bus will not operate after June 30, Hector said.
The cuts follow Measure A- a sales tax measure that would have provided $400,000 in annual funding to the cash-strapped library- in teh June 6 election. The measure came up 42 votes shy of the two-thirds approval required for passage. The library's projected budget for next year is $192,000.
One positive about the new operating hours is that the library will be open again on Saturdays. "We have to (cut operating hours), but maybe this will make it easier for people," said Linda Koreski, president of the library trustees.
Kids in the outlying areas of the county will no longer get regular visits from the library's Wonder Bus. The bus, which traveled to Smith River, Gasquet, Klamath and elsewhere with a cargo of books, learning games and computers, give young people a taste of what the library has to offer, Hector said.
The summer reading program for kids at the library will continue. "We are going to have a summer reading program this year because we redirected grant funding," Koreski said.
In order to squeeze the most out of the library's tight budget, Hector said, there will be a shift away from reference and research materials toward popular reading materials and Internet access. Hector said the library will try harder to serve the recreational reader.
"People in the community using the library are doing recreational reading and using the Internet," she said.
Hector said her goal is to be able to have the library excel at something, even if funding is limited. "It's a community center already and we want to do that really well," she said. On Wednesday, some library patrons were disappointed by the news about the cutbacks.
Wendy McCreary, who was visiting the library with her three children Wednesday, said she wished the library could be open more than just a few hours in the afternoon. "With three kids it's easier to get out in the morning," she said.
But Beverly Kaltsukis of Crescent City, who was browsing through the aisles of non-fiction books on Wednesday, said she could adjust her schedule to visit the library when it's open. "I think I could manage that because we're retired," she said. For McCreary, who recently moved to Del Norte with her family from North Idaho, it's sad to see the library making cuts.
"There's two constants in the world, church and the library," she said.