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Libraries in a bind

DISCOVER YOUR PUBLIC LIBRARY

Alas, we hoped it wouldn’t happen -- again! In 1993, your library

sustained a severe financial blow in the form of the county

bankruptcy.

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We were forced to close one full day a week, shorten hours other

days and slash the book budget by 90%. This year, we’re facing a

flagging national economy and our state’s multibillion-dollar

shortage. I don’t know if it is noticeable yet to our patrons, but

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our new book shelf is considerably more sparse because the library

materials budget has again been reduced drastically.

Not since the bankruptcy have I seen a budget so slim -- past

slim, all the way to anorexic. We were forced to reduce our magazines

by 25% and our book budget was reduced 70%, from $70,000 in 2001 to

$21,000 this year.

We used to receive 30 to 40 new books a week; now we receive 8 or

10. Unless a book is a bestseller, we probably will not buy it.

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And not all branches will receive a copy of a bestseller. This

will mean longer waits. Other titles we would ordinarily buy will not

be bought at all.

Rental best sellers will fill in some of the gap, but we will buy

even fewer of those pay-as-you-read titles.

However, our situation is not quite as dire as it might otherwise

be because we have friends, and I do mean VERY SPECIAL FRIENDS!

With gratitude to our dedicated Friends of the Library and the

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money their bookshop raises, we now have an additional $20,000 with

which to purchase books. Also, we are asking the community to donate

new or gently used books, videos, CDs and books on tape to the

library.

Whether it is purchasing literary treasures in the Friends

bookshop, dropping coins in the “Children’s House” on the front desk

or donating books to the library, our patrons’ support is the “wind

beneath our wings.” Thank you.

* MARIANNA HOF is the Laguna Beach branch librarian.


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