Sussex County Libraries Concerned About State Budget Cuts - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Sussex County Libraries Concerned About State Budget Cuts

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SELBYVILLE, Del.- As Delaware faces as $385 million budget shortfall, some local libraries fear a lack of funding.

Gov. John Carney's Budget Reset Presentation calls for a $460,800 reduction in Delaware Arts and Library Standards. Those cuts would affect all 33 libraries in Delaware, but for the 11 independent libraries in Sussex County, those cuts would amount to about 10 percent of their budget.

"Should that happen, we will be impacted in terms of staffing, hours, materials that we can provide, as well as services," says Kelly Kline, Director of the Selbyville Public Library.

Kline says losing money would make them cut back on some community programs. 

"We really like to try to support education where sometimes the schools aren't able to provide certain skills, like we're doing a cursive writing class this summer," Kline tells WBOC. "That's something that we always want to provide, but this might be prohibitive if our budget is cut."

Kline also says the library's summer lunch program--which fed 389 children last year--could also be affected. Rachel Wackett, director of the Frankford Library, says libraries also play a crucial role for computers. 

“In our communities we are the only primary source of access to technology, so people come here to go online," she says. "Students come here to do homework and print materials.”

Delaware lawmakers must pass the new budget by July 1. Rep. Harvey Kenton, who is on the Joint Finance Committee that will review the proposed cuts, says they haven't looked at any figures yet. However, he acknowledges some difficult decisions must be made, and pledges to make them fairly.

"It's going to be a tough year," he says. "Everybody's probably going to have to take a little bit of a cut."

Kenton says he is a definite supporter of libraries, as his wife was a library assistant for 20 years. In the meantime, Kline says the biggest help will be for people to pay a visit to their local library. 

"We just want people to treasure their town libraries and use them," she says. "That’s really the best support we can have."

Kenton says the Joint Finance Committee will begin budget discussions on Monday.

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