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Eugene Public Library faces 'dire cuts,' foundation says

Eugene Library. Photo courtesy of Eugene Library.{p}{/p}
Eugene Library. Photo courtesy of Eugene Library.

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According to the Eugene Public Library Foundation, the proposed budget for the City of Eugene will cut the library’s budget by $4 million over two years, which would mean cutting over 9 staff positions and nearly $1.9 million in materials and services.

In a media release Wednesday, the Foundation says the pinch is already being felt, as books are starting to take more time to be put back on the shelves after they are returned. They say hold materials are taking longer to be pulled from the shelves and be set aside.

“We can expect a noticeable slowdown in the circulation process,” says Renee Buchanan, the Board President of the Eugene Public Library Foundation. “The cuts will mean fewer new materials, including requests for materials not being able to be met.”

There will be a reduction in materials online too, such as fewer databases and materials through Hoopla and Kanopy, the Foundation said, adding that little to no programming will be able to take place outside of the library.

“This hurts vulnerable populations, in particular,” explains Buchanan. “The library has wonderful programs for elderly living in assisted living and residents of the Eugene Mission. They will no longer have the staff to meet the community’s needs.”

While nearly every department in the City of Eugene will be affected by the cuts, the Foundation says the library’s cut is "outsized." Although the library constitutes just 2% of the City’s budget, it is slated to absorb 13% of the cuts. The cuts to personnel represent 26% of the total staffing cuts, the Foundation says.

“I’m very concerned about the library staff,” admits Dana Fleming, Executive Director of the Eugene Public Library Foundation, and parent of a library staff member. “They are already being asked to perform the duties of social services workers and nurses. These cuts in staffing will undoubtedly take a toll on their mental health.”

Foundation board members, in conjunction with the board of the Friends of the Eugene Public Library, are asking the Budget Committee and City Councilors to reduce the cuts. At minimum, they are requesting that one Outreach Librarian position be added back, who would be designated to support Early Literacy in the Bethel area, according to the Foundation's media release.

“The Bethel area needs extra support,” explains Fleming. “Students who are not meeting benchmarks in reading at 3rd grade are less likely to achieve educational standards. We know Bethel area students are struggling and we know this position can make a difference for them.”

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Concerned community members can write to the budget committee through the city’s website.

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