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Library Budget Increases Slightly

Library Budget Increases Slightly.

The Library NEWS | PANAMA CITY — The local library budget is set to grow by 3.1 percent in the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1, but don’t expect the slight increase to generate any new programs.

The extra funding is partly due to the $74.1 billion state budget — the largest in Florida’s history — passed last spring, which included more money for libraries. The budget means the local system gets $512,109 from the state, an increase of $9,939 over last year.

“The 3 percent increase is for all of our locations combined, so that’s eight libraries in three counties. And it comes from the state aid increases and also increased donations,” said Robin Shader, director of the Northwest Regional Library System, which includes Bay, Gulf and Liberty counties.

The library budget is $2.8 million, an $84,000 increase over last year.

The additional money is welcome news for a system that lost $130,000 in funding from Bay County last year. Facing a tight budget, the county slashed $21 million in spending, including $130,000 for the library, to drop its budget to $232 million.

Now the county budget is back up — at $242.4 million for the coming fiscal year — but its library contribution remains the same at $1.5 million from its general fund. The County Commission approved its tentative budget Tuesday and must give it final approval later this month.

The library also has benefited from donations from individuals and organizations like Friends of the Bay County Public Libraries. The groups have raised a lot of money, which should help the library maintain its current program offering, Shader said.

Based on current funding levels though, the system won’t be adding any new programs. To offer those, the library will need to pick up some private grants, Shader said. Right now, it’s waiting to hear back on a Best Buy grant application, which would enable additional video production classes for teens, she said.

Still, the library continues to promote its services, currently spreading the word about September being National Library Card Sign-up Month.

“I think we’re doing great. Our usage is up — our computer use is up, the number of items being checked out is up, the number of people coming in the doors is up — so we’re more popular than ever,” Shader said.

source || The News Herald

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