State funding to public libraries all over Pennsylvania has drastically decreased in the last few years and community members say they can feel the impact it is having here.
While funding decreases, the number of visitors is up. The Schlow Library in State College is seeing a 3% increase in people coming to check the library out.
“The use is up because we are still in an economic recession,” says Cathy Alloway, the Director at the Schlow Library. “I think people understand the good value that the library provides for their tax dollars.”
Funding provides free access to thousands of books, DVDs and the internet. The amount allocated to libraries from the state is decreasing and visitors say they can tell.
“I can see it from the books,” says Dorothy Albright, a frequent visitor to the Centre County Library in Bellefonte. “I’ve had to do a lot inter-library book transfers because they aren’t able to get them here. You can see the difference.”
In the last few years since the decreases began, some local libraries have lost their funding for new books, had to lay off employees and some have even had to close their doors for good.
Frequent visitors like Dorothy fear the changing times could impact the access they have to their branches.
“This is a place where kids learn and where community can congregate and relax. Voice your opinion and let them know you’re concerned and you don’t want the library to close.”
Due to the funding decreases, Schlow will be closing for a week in May to try to curb the costs of having to pay employees. While state funding is decreasing, the director says local funding remains steady and donations to the library have actually increased 110% since 2008.