Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nassau's Public Libraries Feeling Financial Squeeze; So Will Readers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nassau's Public Libraries Feeling Financial Squeeze; So Will Readers

Article excerpt

Byline: AMELIA A. HART, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

Patrons at Nassau County's five public libraries are starting to feel the pinch as the library system adjusts to recent budget cutbacks.

Weekly children's programming at the Hilliard branch library was suspended for two weeks recently when the library ran out of money to reimburse the library system's children's programs director for gas money.

The program was restarted this week after the county agreed to provide a car for Diane Johnson to use, Library Director Dawn Bostwick said Friday.

But special summer programming, featuring storytellers and other children's performers, has been cancelled at the Hilliard library this year, while the number of summer programs at the Callahan and Yulee branches will be slashed from from eight to two, Bostwick said.

"Just like all county departments, the library system as a whole had a reduction in our budget," Bostwick said. "Some of our services are going to have to be cut back."

Summer programming at the Fernandina Beach branch is underwritten by the Friends of the Fernandina Beach Library and is not expected to be affected, Bostwick said.

Library officials also plan to let subscriptions to six Internet databases lapse as a way to save money. The databases include Ebsco, which allows patrons to search articles from about 3,500 journals, and Newspaper Source, which provides articles from 52 newspapers, as well as several popular genealogy databases, Bostwick said.

Fines for overdue books also were doubled this month, from 10 cents a day to 20 cents. Bostwick said Nassau County's late fees have not been increased since the late 1980s. The hike brings the fines in line with what other library systems in the area already charge, she said.

Nassau County Commission Chairman Floyd Vanzant and County Administrator Mike Mahaney were slated to meet Tuesday with library officials and members of the Library Advisory Board to update them on the status of library funding this fiscal year.

But two years of cuts in the library's book budget are already taking their toll.

Bostwick said the library had $195,000 to buy books and other materials two years ago. …

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