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Library: Cutbacks Mean No New DVDs, Books in 2012

GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Members of the Greenburgh Public Library said they are disappointed with the effects the town's extra cuts had on their budget because it is leaving patrons without new books, DVDs or audio books throughout 2012.

Days before the 2012 budget was passed, the town cut an additional nine percent of the library's funding. The library is receiving $2.6 million from the town in 2012, roughly $570,000 less than last year, which is an 18 percent cut. In addition, the library was asked to use $450,000 from its reserve fund this year, making its adopted budget $3.1 million. In 2011, it used $160,000 from its reserve fund.

"We're frustrated, we're disappointed," said Greenburgh Library Director Eugenie Contrata about the last-minute December cut that left the facility with $250,000 less than what it had budgeted for.

Contrata hit the papers, searching for an additional $250,000 worth of cuts. In the end, she said, she and the library board were forced to choose between eliminating all new materials for the coming year or firing two full-time employees, which would have forced the library to close another full day and only be open five days per week. Eliminating the new materials saved the library $182,000.

"It was a difficult time and it was a stressful time," Contrata said. "It was a hard decision for the library board to make. They didn't make it easily. They are very saddened that the Greenburgh Library isn't going to be the best library that we want it to be because we can't provide people with new materials. No decision was easy. No decision was perfect. We knew we would be disappointing people. But we felt that keeping the library open six days a week was very important."

While the Greenburgh Library will not own any new materials this year, patrons can use the Westchester Library System's inter-library loan to acquire materials that are released throughout 2012. However, Greenburgh customers will have to wait longer than normal to procure the items as patrons from the library with ownership of the material get first dibs over other libraries, said Contrata.

"Eliminating materials was sad and disappointing and frustrating because we know that patrons want them," Contrata said. "They want the new book about the Obamas and we don't have the money to buy it. So we're relying on our other libraries in the county to help us out."

The library also made cuts involving new furniture to outfit the lobby, new office supplies including new printers and computers, salary increases, advertising, computer software, postage and equipment for the public. This saved an additional $78,000.

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