Washoe County Libraries: Still Hobbled by Cuts - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Washoe County Libraries: Still Hobbled by Cuts

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Besides some parks departments, there was probably no bigger victim of the budget cuts than the Washoe County Library System. All you have to do is drive by the old Mendive branch to see the proof. The library system closed that branch 4 years ago...it's now being used by Mendive Middle School. Washoe County Library System Director Arnie Maurins told us, "The budget was the precipitating factor in the closure, but we were looking at eventually closing that facility when Spanish Springs Library opened."

The libraries get their funding from property and sales tax. As those property taxes nosedived in the housing crash, it spelled disaster for Washoe County's libraries…their budget was cut in half. Hours were cut by 35% at all 12 branches. Maurins said the reduction in hours "has impacted people for sure. We've lost probably about a quarter of our total visitors."

The downtown branch went from 7 days a week morning to night, to being closed Fridays and Saturdays. The library system lost about 100 paid workers they couldn't afford to replace. That left them without enough staff to keep doors open. They even had to sell the Bookmobile. Maurins told us, "That was really hard to do. We took it out of service in 2010. That was another victim of our loss of staff."

Walking along the fiction aisles, Programs and Community Collaborations Director Beate Weinert calls this a year of rebuilding. No, there are no set plans to expand hours and hire people back, but she sees a better, smarter library system. "We're refocusing on the services we're providing. We're trying to be responsive to what the community is asking for."

You'll see some of that refocus here and there. Downtown, in what used to be the young adult corner, sits the library's newest innovation…automated self-checkout. Weinert showed us how "you use your library card and you scan it right down here, and then you check out your materials and you're off."

Working faster, with less. Part of some new hope on Center Street, and at your neighborhood branch.

-written by John Potter

The library is looking for more friends to help it recover from its budget cuts. Here's a link that shows how you can donate money, time or materials easily:

http://www.washoecounty.us/library/donate.html

 

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