Cuts leave local libraries struggling to survive

By Michelle Costanza

March 1, 2014 Updated Mar 3, 2014 at 12:13 PM EDT

Town of Fenton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The Fenton Free Library is turning to the community and tax money to help stay afloat.

A 70 percent budget cut in 2011 to libraries funded by Broome County has placed each in a tough position.

Funding dropped for Fenton from $33,200 in 2011 to the current $9,200, which has pushed them to scrimp on services, according to Library Director Korin Spencer.

The library is currently running on around $50,000, but the expenses for the facility run up to $85,000, leaving a $35,000 gap.

Programs and hours have to be retained through fundraising, grants and funding through the town of Fenton, but Spencer says it's not enough.

"We want to increase programming, automatize our library, we're still using a card catalog, and improve to become a bigger part of the four county library system," said Korin Spencer, director of the library.

In addition to normal library functions, the building serves as a meeting space for groups and organizations.

"We have a quilter's guild that comes in twice a month, a bridge club that's here every Thursday, boy scouts and girl scouts," said Spencer.

Now, they're turning to the public.

The Fenton Free Library will ask residents to vote in May for a new line item on the Chenango Valley school ballot to approve an $85,000 levy.

"Figured in, it's about $11.90 for a home assessed at $100,000... If you think about it, it's only about the price of a pizza in exchange for a year's worth of great community resources," said Spencer.

If voters turn it down, the director said the library could remain open for a short time, but hours and other services would be cut significantly.

An informational meeting will be held at the library on Thursday, March 13, and the vote at Chenango Valley High School will take place May 20.

For more information, visit Town of Fenton's website.