The Peoples Library Board is deeply concerned that the Westmoreland County Federated Library System may rush through a new formula for state and county funding that will substantially cut our funding ( “Library funding change studied,” May 1).
We want the county board to take its time to consider the significant impact such a reduction will have on Peoples Library and the children and adults we serve. We need a fair and equitable formula.
A $31,000 annual cut in our funding is severe. Results could include:
• Closing both the New Kensington and Lower Burrell libraries for another day of the week, reducing service from five days to four.
• Reducing services for children, students and adults. We had approximately 400 children and teens attend our summer learning programs last year. We have after-school and summer tutoring programs for elementary schoolchildren and pre-school programs coordinated with Head Start and day care centers.
• Limiting the many adults and students without home computers who use ours daily to do research and look for jobs.
All libraries have absorbed substantial cuts in state funding in recent years, and we've increased our fundraising efforts to make up that shortfall. But our area is not a wealthy one. The New Kensington-Arnold School District has one of the highest levels of students who qualify for free and reduced lunches in the county.
We hope the county library board will help us maintain the essential services that we provide.
The writer is president of the Peoples Library Board in New Kensington.