Responding to significantly reduced tax revenues and rising costs, Fort Vancouver Regional Library District announced the following necessary cutbacks in staffing and library hours, effective Feb. 1, 2009:
Elimination of 24 positions across the district, including 11 positions that are presently filled. Of those positions with incumbents, five are at Vancouver Community Library; one position each is at White Salmon Valley Community Library and Stevenson Community Library; and four positions are at Vancouver-based district operations.
Reduced hours in 13 positions across the district.
Elimination of one open day a week at Goldendale, Stevenson, Three Creeks and Vancouver (main library). The district is completing arrangements for the specific days to be closed and will announce them in the coming weeks.
Also beginning Feb. 1, Vancouver Mall Community Library will close at 6 p.m. rather than 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and will open one hour later on Sunday, at Noon rather than 11 a.m.
Additionally, when the new Battle Ground Community Library opens to the public in May 2009, its weekly schedule will be one day less than its current six open days. The new Cascade Park Community Library building is on track to open to the public in late 2009 or early 2010, when its schedule will be reduced by one day from its current six-days open per week.
The staff reductions of 20.6 FTE (full-time equivalency) are 9.6 percent of the present 215 FTE. In all, 825 staff hours per week will be eliminated on Feb. 1, 2009, reducing the district's number of regular staff positions from 246 to about 222.
"We've cut staff and hours only after every other attempt to balance our 2009 budget, including slashing training, travel, and capital expenditures," said Bruce Ziegman, FVRL executive director. "We're also considering substantial cutbacks in our books-by-mail program that we'll implement in 2009. We regret the necessity of losing good employees, and of having to cut services to our communities by reducing open hours."
The district will continue its three new library building projects to replace the current undersized and outdated Battle Ground, Cascade Park and main library buildings.
"These projects have different funding sources than our operations budget, which pays employees' salaries," Ziegman explained. "It would be very costly and short-sighted to slow down or halt large building projects that are already underway. Adequate facilities are part of the long-range planning for library services, beyond the immediate economic downturn."
The 2009 budget approved by the Board of Trustees in November is $17.9 million, down $300,000 from the $18.2 million 2008 budget.