CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Hamilton County libraries are facing a $3.2 million budget shortfall due to state budget cuts and devaluation of property in the county.
On Tuesday, the library board of trustees met to finalize the plan to absorb the cuts and still keep all the county's branches open.
FOX19 visited the main branch downtown and met the Harper family from North Avondale. 8th grader Miles Harper was in the middle of a good book, but told us he uses the library for a lot more, "DVD's, audio books, music...so then it's just something to fall back on when you really need it. "
The Harpers were also there to get Miles' two younger sisters their first library cards. It's a trend library Executive Director Kim Fender says they are watching happily - library usage is up 8 percent so far this year.
As libraries themselves have continued to evolve, so have the ways of funding them. Thirteen years ago when Fender first took the job, the library's budget spiked to its highest ever, and then plummeted, and has continued to go down ever since.
The board knew this latest round of cuts was coming, and Fender says months of planning is the reason patrons will not feel much at all in the way of reduced services. Fender says she and the board put a hiring freeze in place, are holding off on doing maintenance projects like roof replacements at its branches, and also put a salary freeze into effect even though, "we're busier than ever."
The bottom line is that those who work at the library will continue to pass on their love of learning to patrons as best they can, while stretching dollars as far as they'll go.