The Canby Public Library would be open only six days a week, closing on Sundays, under the proposed budget presented to the Canby Budget Committee this week.
The change, which City Administrator Rick Robinson hopes is temporary, is being forced by an approximately $50,000 budget shortfall and would take effect for the 2019/20 fiscal year, which starts July 1.
It’s particularly unfortunate considering that Sundays are actually the library’s busiest day, partly because of the programming that normally happens throughout the day, such as children’s story time in the mornings and Dungeons & Dragons for teens in the afternoon.
Library Director Irene Green says the library sees an average of 94 visitors per hour on Sundays. The slowest day is Friday.
City Councilor Sarah Spoon, also a member of the budget committee, asked if Fridays could be cut instead, but Robinson and Green said removing a day during the normal business week proved too challenging from a staffing perspective.
“We’ve asked the library board and the director to give us their best recommendation, and as I understand it, this is the best solution that we’ve been able to develop,” Robinson told the budget committee on Thursday. We’re hoping that it’s just one year that this has to happen, and we’re able to regroup and find a different funding source to support the library in the future.”
The proposed budget already included an increase in general fund dollars for the library, from $50,000 in the current fiscal year to $75,000 for FY 19/20. But to keep the doors open on Sunday, Robinson says, would require an additional $50,000 from the general fund.
The library has a number of volunteers who pitch in at the library in various ways, but volunteers can’t be used to navigate around this fiscal shortfall. Robinson explained that, due to contractual obligations with the city’s union-represented employees, volunteers may not be used to supplant the work of paid staff. They may only be used to support that work.
Robinson, as well as many of the budget committee members, praised the library and its staff for its tremendous success in engaging the community, as well as growing and developing their programming over the years.
Councilor Shawn Varwig, another member of the budget committee and City Council liaison to the library board, vowed to work with the Clackamas County library district to try and ensure the Canby library is receiving proper funding from the district based on the numbers and area it serves.
“Frankly, I almost feel it would be a disservice to our library board to make any decision other than the one that they’re recommending, which is Monday through Saturday,” Robinson said. “After the many, many hours they’ve discussed this, and have come to the conclusion that that is the way to both meet the obligations to our employees and meet the needs of our community.”
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