From the Baltimore Sun:
Hampton “Skip” Auld does not mince words when he talks about the struggles of Anne Arundel County’s library system the past few years.
“We were devastated,” the library director says. “We were on the ropes.”
Years of government cuts during an economic downturn took its toll on the libraries. There was less money to buy new books, audio books and DVDs. Magazine subscriptions were canceled. Sunday hours were cut. Employees had no raises.
Now, he says, the libraries are emerging from the wilderness.
With an improving economy filling the government’s coffers — and a new county executive at the helm — the library system is the beneficiary of a more robust budget. If the County Council passes the allocations proposed by County Executive Laura Neuman, the library stands to get 3 percent pay raises for employees, nearly $750,000 to expand Sunday hours starting in January and $200,000 to buy more computers for library patrons.
All told, the library system is getting a 8 percent increase in its operating budget, from nearly $19 million to $20.5 million.
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The county’s library system got a $2.5 million boost to restore Sunday hours at three libraries, most likely New Carrollton, Oxon Hill and South Bowie, and to buy more materials. Baker had proposed a cut to the system of about $820,000, but an intense lobbying effort by Friends of the Library groups, council members, and the union representing library employees changed the outcome.
The new budget takes effect July 1st.