Library wants help defending against budget cuts

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- State lawmakers have rearranged their schedule so they can continue budget negotiations Wednesday.

As they talk, organizations like the Lexington Public Library are asking people to fight for them in Frankfort.

“We’ve studied our community, we’ve studied what’s happened in the world and we’ve responded,” Ann Hammond, the library’s executive director, said.

Hammond says the library offers more than 13,000,000 visitors a year services such as workforce development and early childhood education, services she says are under threat during budget discussions in Frankfort.

“It will negatively affect the most vulnerable people in the community,” Hammond said.

Staff members worry budget cuts could mean a reduction in services such as the number of hours open on the weekends when people are looking for jobs. According to staff members, last year people logged onto computers in the library almost 100,000 times on weekends alone.

“I understand the budget has to be fixed. I understand there are issues of trying to be more business friendly. We have a commitment to the people we serve,” Hammond said.

Many of those people do not want to see cuts.

“Oh, you would just be holding everybody else back,” Vivian Baxter said about potential cuts.

She says the library was a life saver when her laptop broke just as she was starting a new company. Similarly, historian Kalvin Graves says he wouldn’t be able to work on a new book without access to the library’s maps and databases.

“If those accesses are not available, it will hurt this community a great deal,” Graves said.

Hammond says the library is primarily funded through local property tax under a rate it can’t change. How much support the system will lose depends on the talk of the day at the Capitol.

“It’s a moving target,” Hammond said.

It looks like about $600,000 right now if you include potential changes to the retirement system.

“That would be equivalent to what we spend each year on buying children’s books,” Hammond used as an example.

ABC 36 reached out to lawmakers to find out why they feel those cuts are needed.
None of them responded.

The library is encouraging people to voice their concerns to lawmakers. You can call 1-800-372-7181. The library has more information on contacting elected officials on its Facebook page. 

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