With government funding decreasing across the board for most local agencies, the Schlow Centre Region Library hasn’t been able to escape a similar fate either.
The library’s state funding has decreased from $623,283 in 2008 to $419,030 in 2014, resulting in a cumulative total of $982,571 lost in aid over that time period. To attempt to make up for the budgetary restraints placed on it by the state, the library’s donations and funding from the Centre Region Council of Governments have greatly increased, but there is still a budget shortfall. In order to make the shortfall hurt a little less, the library has decided to close for the week of May 12 – 18.
Library Director Cathi Alloway explained that by closing for an entire week, the library can save $30,000 at minimum. The library’s weeklong closure comes the week following finals week, so it won’t affect most students, but it will affect the full-time residents of State College and its surrounding municipalities. All of the employees will be furloughed, remote book drops will be closed, and only critical parts of the library’s website will be operating, allowing for the library to operate at little cost. By cutting all hours in the week, Schlow will not be meeting state standards, which dictate that a commonwealth library must be open at least 65 hours a week, year-round, but a waiver was granted by Commonwealth Libraries due to the library’s finances.
Alloway also mentioned that the library is trying different methods to help with Schlow’s finances. They have recently opened up their parking lot after-hours for $1 an hour or $2 for special event weekends (i.e. football weekends). There is a catch though: cars must be out of the lot before the library opens in the morning or their owners face a $20 penalty fee, which inhibits long-term parking. Alloway hopes that the new parking policy can help close Schlow’s budget gap a little bit, but it is still in its early stages.
“I hope to bring this to the public’s attention,” said Alloway. “The library is a great resource for the community.”