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'Friends' urge council to honor money stipulations

By: Viola Kuka Special to The News Messenger
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The Friends of the Lincoln Library understand there will be a special meeting of the City Council on Tuesday to discuss further budget cuts necessary to “balance the budget” for this fiscal year 2010-2011. This discussion may include initiating cuts proposed for the 2011-2012 fiscal year now rather than later. For our libraries, this could mean closing the Carnegie Library, reducing staff and cutting the hours of operation at the Twelve Bridges Library from 23 hours a week down to 12 hours a week if Library Director Darla Wegener’s staff report for the fiscal year 2011-2012, as presented at the Feb. 16 council budget meeting, is adopted. According to the library director, due to past library budget cuts, this Feb. 16 report represented the only areas left to cut – staff and hours. The Friends would like to remind the community and City Council members of action the council has taken regarding funds for this fiscal year, which obligate the city and library director to keep the Carnegie Library open, to implement certain programs at the Twelve Bridges Library and have library staff plan, present and staff these programs. The library director’s staff report for the fiscal year 2011-2012 did not include any funding for library programs and included closing the Carnegie Library. At the Aug. 10, 2010 City Council meeting, the council accepted from the Friends by an affirmative vote the below funds and stipulations: • $7,500 for library costs for presenting Mother Goose on the Loose at the Twelve Bridges Library for 41 weeks, beginning July 2010 and continuing through June 2011. Mother Goose on the Loose would be held on Thursday mornings with two sessions (10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.). Three library staff members are necessary to plan, present and manage the 100 participants at each session. • $30,498.46 representing Save the Carnegie donations to keep the Carnegie Library open for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. This total represents $4,709.46 donated to Save Our Carnegie in 2010 and the release of $25,789, which represents donations collected in the 1990s effort to keep the Carnegie Library open and not expended at that time but held by the city in its accounts. At the Jan. 11, 2011 City Council meeting, the council accepted from the Friends by an affirmative vote the below funds and stipulations: • $5,250 for library costs and supplies to provide the Summer Reading Program, beginning with an opening ceremony in May and the actual program running from June 1, 2011 to July 9, 2011. At least three library staff members are required to plan, present and manage this program. As the Books in the Courtyard program (funded by the Friends and staffed solely by volunteers) will be participating in the Summer Reading Program by signing reading logs during the Books in the Courtyard program, it was further understood that the Carnegie Library would be open the four Wednesday mornings in June during the Books in the Courtyard program hours. On behalf of the Friends and contributors (residents, businesses and grants), we urge the council and library director to continue to honor these commitments for the 2010-2011 fiscal year so the children of Lincoln can continue to experience and participate in these programs. We also urge supporters of the libraries to express their concerns to the City Council members, the library director and the city manager. Viola Kuka is Friends of the Lincoln Library treasurer.