From the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:
Northwest Arkansas’ public libraries largely survived last year’s $1 million cut in state money with minimal hardship, but library directors said others across the state have been more deeply harmed.
The decrease can’t continue another year without bigger consequences, they added.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s proposed $5.3 billion state budget for the coming fiscal year, unveiled Tuesday, holds library aid at $4.6 million. The money was cut to that level during the 2015 General Assembly, down from about $5.7 million during the 2014-15 fiscal year.
The cut amounts to thousands or tens of thousands of dollars for individual libraries. Fayetteville Public Library lost about $28,000, for example, and Rogers lost $19,000, according to their directors. State money to Washington County’s library system dropped by $50,000.
The amounts are small compared to overall library budgets, which can reach between $2 million and $4 million, but most of the budget goes to salaries and facility expenses, leaving a fraction to absorb the loss, library directors said.
“It all rolls together to make an impact,” said State Librarian Carolyn Ashcraft, pointing to libraries across the state that have closed on Sundays, stopped hiring new people and scheduled fewer author and special events. “Every little bit of funding helps.”
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