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How budget cuts could impact Eugene libraries

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With Eugene's proposed budget continuing to take shape, nearly all departments are facing cuts, and the public library is no exception.

What cuts are the library facing currently?

The proposed city budget lists nine full time positions being cut from the library, which is expected to save $4-million over the course of the 2023-2025 period.

Will this impact library hours and locations?

According to city manager, Sarah Medary, there will be no changes to when libraries will be open, and no branch closures are planned.

What about library services?

According to current budget plans, nearly $1.9-million will be cut from library services, meaning reductions to outreach programs, in-house event programs, and a potential slowdown when it comes to internal book circulation. However, nearly $700k of that will be shifted over to funding that comes from the 2020 Library Levy, but this would be a one time funding decision.

Wednesday evening, the Eugene Public Library Foundation put out a release detailing the significance of the cuts, and how it would impact the library.

"There will definitely be a slow down in services within the library," said Dana Fleming, the executive director of the Eugene Public Library Foundation. "Also outside the library walls, they won't be able to do as many outreach programs. One of the programs they do right now, that's really popular and really successful is at the Eugene Mission, [the library] does a computer skills class."

The foundation's press release can be found here.

Fleming adds that her largest concern when it comes to these cuts relates to the Bethel School District, and how the Eugene Public Library assists in helping kids within the district.

"Having that extra support from the Eugene Public Library to fill in the gaps where the schools don't have librarians is really important," Fleming said. "It's really important that students are able to read proficiently by third grade. It's a predictor of success."

In Wednesday night's budget meeting, discussions were had about some library funding being secured through Governor Kotek's HB 3198 initiative, that looks to put $120-million towards early literacy in the state.

Final decisions regarding the budget are set to be made at the end of June.

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