Libraries forced to cut back services - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Libraries forced to cut back services

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June 30, 2003

Decatur County - State budget cuts may make it tougher to get library books delivered to you. Southwest Georgia Regional Library Director, Susan Whittle, says, "It dilutes the quality of service we've built over the past 14 years." Some south Georgia libraries are already feeling the pinch, a day before the budget cut goes into effect.

Library directors call it a dark time for Georgia library services. Last year, libraries were struck with sudden changes and were not exactly prepared for cutting back. This year, librarians expect to be forced to cut back on services, including those for the disabled and those who can't make it to the library.

Ray Mitchell opens his favorite childhood book and says, "When I look at it now it's just like looking at it when I was in kindergarten. I can't read it." Mitchell depends on books on tape. He says, "Without this [tape recorder] I don't know what I would do."

Mitchell has lost most of his eyesight and he uses machines to read. He's also the director of the Desoto Trail Regional Library in Camilla. He says, "They've cut travel plans." The state budget has forced librarians to cut back. Mitchell adds, "I'm sure it's going to be tough for the Library of the Blind. To take them this machine [tape recorder] and show them how it works." Instead of visiting clients, staff members will have to give instructions over the phone. They have 900 disabled people in the 11-county area.

The library bookmobile will also be on the road a lot less. Whittle says, "We are looking at every resource we can to litigate the budget cuts in this region."

Cut backs are reducing how many times the bookmobile leaves the southwest Georgia Regional Library in Decatur County. She says, "It [bookmobile] reaches not so many, but those it does reach are critical areas."

The books on wheels visit people in Miller, Seminole and Decatur Counties who can't make it to the library. Whittle adds, "People who live in the county will have to find transportation into the library."

Library directors are proud of the services they've created and hate to see the cutbacks.

Smaller, more rural libraries are more affected by these cuts because they rely more heavily on state money.

posted at 5:40PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com