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Cuts will slash book budget

Despite growing popularity, the Red Wing Public Library will more than likely cutback on materials next year.

The library is having a banner year, Library Director James Lund said.

"We're on pace to just obliterate the all-time circulation record," Lund said, adding some 4,000 people visit the library every week.

At the same time, the library faces cuts. Like other organs of the city - which has struggled all year with the loss of state aid - the library's 2010 budget will be pinched.

The Library Board has vowed to maintain hours, but staff says, given the current budget forecast, they must cut the materials budget in half.

"The board feels we've taken a hit on hours for years and we can't reduce our hours anymore," Board Director Joe Lommel said.

Lund said hours have been on a steady decline over 15 years and on average Red Wing's library is open 10 fewer hours a week than similar-sized libraries in southeastern Minnesota.

This year, the library can cut its book budget in half and be careful in its purchases, Lund said, but that's not something it can sustain year to year and keep services at the status quo. If the funding trend continues, the library will be forced to cut hours and employees.

The city is contractually required to fund the library at a certain level. But knowing Red Wing's coffers are depleted, the Library Board and City Council negotiated a reduced budget. That budget is set to be approved in December, barring any major budgetary shakeups.

City Council member Lisa Bayley said she appreciate the library's willingness to accept less money.

Lund said the situation isn't ideal but he doesn't want the library to be a squeaky wheel.

"I don't want to whine about it," he said. "Other businesses go through this stuff. We're going to do with what we have."