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Library District Cuts Services

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"An era has ended."

On Tuesday evening, September 3rd 2002, an era ended. That era began when the East Bonner County Library District was formed and began providing library services to the citizens of Sandpoint and surrounding areas. Now, for the first time in over 20 years, the trustees of the East Bonner Library District adopted a fiscal year 2003 budget that will reduce services from the level of the year before.
This budget was based on the economic reality that the District did not have sufficient income to continue as they have in the past. There are many factors that contribute to this reality. Some are caused by utility rate increases and the cost of medical insurance for the staff. Other factors come from a sluggish economy that has seen interest returns on investments drop to seldom seen historic lows. But the primary reason is that the District has exhausted, almost totally, reserves that have been built up over more than a decade.
With the failure of the levy vote in May the trustees and administration knew that there would have to be radical surgery done on the new 2003 budget. They were looking at the unappetizing fact that there would be no new hires, no replacing employees that leave, no wage or longevity increases. The district had to face the fact that one of its most popular services would be severely curtailed. Our bookmobile would no longer make weekly stops around the district. That service will be reduced to every other week and for a shorter time period at each stop. Also, one satellite branch, Edgemere, would be closed completely with those patrons added to the bookmobile route. Operating hours in Sandpoint and Clark Fork will also be reduced. 
No area of the budget was overlooked. The line item for new materials acquisitions was cut in half. This means that the library’s traditional role as the source for new books, music and movies will be greatly reduced. New fees will be implemented to help defray some operating expenses along with limits on quantity of materials that can be checked out by a patron. 
None of these steps were taken with pleasure. The District has long prided itself on providing more and better services than just about every other library in Idaho. The operation of the East Bonner County Library has been looked upon as a model to emulate throughout the state and region. In many ways the District is a victim of its own success. The patrons have seen it succeed without apparent effort. The reality is that, behind the scenes, there has always been great effort at every level to provide the patrons the best services and facilities possible.
Now, starting October 1st, the District will continue to provide the best services it can but at a significantly reduced level. We hope the patrons appreciate the fact that the District is doing everything it can under the circumstances and understand the economic realities that have created this situation. To quote Chief Dan George in the old Clint Eastwood movie The Outlaw Josey Wales, “We shall endeavor to persevere.” 
Gil Beyer is a Sandpoint resident and a member of the Library's board of trustees.

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Author info

Gil  Beyer Gil Beyer A 21 year Navy veteran, lived in Bonner County for over 30 years, Past Commander of the Priest River DAV Chapter and admitted news junkie.

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Bonner County, budget, funding, library

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