Dallas libraries bracing for more cuts in budget crunch

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on July 15, 2010 at 8:18 PM

DALLAS — For 10 years, Les Reed has worked at the Skillman branch library as a page. It's a simple yet vital job that returns books to shelves as soon as possible.

"We work as a team here, and any time you break up a team there are always some regrets," he said.

But under the budget being formed by the city manager's office, nearly all of the 90 pages in 23 branches and the central library will be cut as part of the city's total job reduction of 500 employees.

Although branch hours likely won't be reduced, staff cuts mean patrons will likely see delays. The library is bracing to lose a total of 155 workers after seeing its budget slashed by more than half in the past two years.

"They can expect to wait longer to check out," said interim library services director Corinne Hill. "They will have to wait longer for service. They are going to wait longer for materials."

And there will be fewer new materials to check out or peruse.

About $900,000 will be set aside for new books, CDs and DVDs compared to $3.7 million two years ago, before the recession hit.

Regular library patrons like Jean Griswold don't want the City Council to cut so deeply. "Sometimes you have to put up with delays to have it, but pages are extremely important," she said.

Les Reed, however, isn't optimistic the Council will be restoring money in a terrible budget year.

"I've already started looking, 'cause it's better to look while you have a job," he said."

The pink slips go out to city employees on August 13. That's when Reed and others will find out who will lose their jobs — unless the City Council finds more money before then.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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