Libraries across the state are facing budget cuts after the Kentucky General Assembly approved $2.5 million in cuts to public libraries statewide in its latest budget for the second year in a row.

Erin Waller, Daviess County Public Library director, said Monday that the cuts seem to have a bigger impact on smaller libraries.

While the DCPL had been getting about $45,000 in state funding annually, that only made up about 1% of the library’s total budget for the fiscal year.

“It doesn’t make a huge impact to us, but it does make a huge impact to our neighbors,” Waller said Monday. “They may not be able to have as many programs or have as much material on their shelves.”

Aimee Newberry, McLean County Public Library director, said the library typically received about $12,000 from the state each year, which was a significant chunk of its $180,000 annual budget.

“We are a very small library, as you might guess,” Newberry said. “We were the last (public) library formed in the state of Kentucky, and we rely on our state aid to help us with our bookmobile program, with our outreach programs.”

The loss of state funding has forced the McLean County Public Library to try and find other ways to make up the financial gap.

“We were very lucky to have some gracious donors this past year that helped us, including Atmos Energy,” she said.

While the COVID-19 pandemic meant the library wasn’t offering all its services and could save some money that way, Newberry said the cut was, “still a pretty good kick in the britches.”

In addition to limiting its material purchases and programming, Newberry said the library was forced to eliminate a part-time staff position as well.

Muhlenberg County Public Libraries Director Janet Harris said that while she has not had to eliminate any staff, losing about $20,000 in annual funding has posed its challenges.

“Of course it makes you have to adjust your budget accordingly,” she said. “It has caused a decrease in programming and materials purchases.”

Harris said that while the state funding did not make up a large percentage of the Muhlenberg County Public Library’s budget, “every penny helps.”

Newberry said members of the community depend on their local library to provide services for them, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made many people realize just how important libraries are in communities of all sizes.

Celebrating its 10-year anniversary next week, the McLean County Public Library provides services for more than 4,600 community members, out of a population of about 9,200 people.

“It has been a lot of fun, it is truly a great ride,” Newberry said. “To see people and appreciate a library and the things that we do and for them to realize the library is not just books in an old moldy building.”

Nathan Havenner, Messenger-Inquirer, nhavenner@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-228-2837

Nathan Havenner, Messenger-Inquirer, nhavenner@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-228-2837

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