BANDON — With a significant reduction in its budget, the Bandon Public Library is making some changes that will likely be noticeable to the public.
For now, the library will remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Gov. Kate Brown's guidelines for reopening.
"We've had some significant budget issues we've had to overcome that involved letting go of some much-loved staff," said Library Director Jennifer Croft.
Croft, who was hired earlier this year after former director Rosalyn McGarva retired, said not only did the library have to cut about $65,000 in its staffing budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, they also had to cut about $50,000 this fiscal year just to finish the year in the black.
"The major changes they'll notice is that we will no longer have a children's or programming specialist on staff so we will need to reinvent the way those services have been provided," Croft said. "The unforgiving truth was that we can only expect around $355,000 from our district tax base for the next fiscal year, and our staffing costs were around $420,000," Croft explained.
In total, the library has had to reduce its staff by three to make up the deficit. Those employees include Julie Tipton, longtime children's librarian, and Sara Michael, assistant library director, who has also been in charge of the library's programming for the past few years. Annie Wilson, who also works at the Langlois Library, was also laid off. There are now five staff members at the library (four full-time equivalent).
"During the previous library director's tenure, staffing levels increased and the city had begun the practice of kicking in extra funds to support that, but because of their own budget shortfalls, they were unable to continue that practice," Croft said.
The library's portion of the district funding is also expected to be smaller this year than last since the Library Service District will be taking a bigger portion of the revenue, Croft added.
"The cuts don't include supplies and books and other expenses, but those are flexible," Croft said. "We're pretty concerned. All of our staff members are loved and some of our patrons are used to dealing with certain people. Losing Julie Tipton, who's been the Children Library Specialist for 25 years, will be a hard hit."
Croft said Tipton has volunteered to come back for story times at the library as a guest reader. The Bandon Library Friends and Foundation used funds they raised with their Trivia Nights to purchase a rocking chair and make a cozy spot to read in the children's area. They plan to also put up a plaque naming it "Miss Julie's Reading Corner" to honor the time and dedication Tipton has given to the library.
Michael has, over the past few years, greatly increased the number of programs offered at the library, most of them at no charge.
"People like our programs," Croft said. "It draws people who might not ever normally come to the library. We've increased these in the past few years but we can't afford it. We'll still have programs, but it just won't look the same."
Curbside pickup and free mailings will continue at the library, but the building won't open until the library can make sure the public will be safe visiting.
"I feel confident in our ability to do (curbide pickup and free mailings) in regards to social distancing, but I don't feel confident in regards to social distancing within the library, so we're not going into Phase 2 opening yet. There's so many moving pieces that it's hard to make it work. Some librarians are trying to make it work with tape, but I'm not confident in my ability to make people adhere to that.
"It's an evolving situation that we're watching and waiting."
Croft said although the library is not open to the public, staff are still there to help and are just a phone call away.
"A lot of people like to browse, but a librarian can do reader advisories and recommendations," Croft said. "Call and we'll ask you a few questions and make some recommendations for you. We're happy to do that and we love to serve the public in that way."
There is also the Library2go program, where people can check out books online and pick them up or have them mailed, and there are free e-books and audio books available to library patrons. To access these services, visit library2go.overdrive.com or download "Libby" from an App Store on a smart phone.
The current Library Art Gallery show "A Silver Lining" featuring the annual mosaic show, is being presented online by curator Tracy Hodson on the Bandon Library Art Gallery Facebook page, on the Bandon Library Friends and Foundation Facebook page and website, on the Bandon Public Library page, or directly by following this link: https://tinyurl.com/ycuz8qr7. For more information about the Library Art Gallery show, visit bandonevents.org.
The Bandon Public Library is open (meaning staff are available) from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays, 541-347-3221.