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Richard Piatt Reporting...Salt Lake city's brand new library is facing money trouble. Just months after its grand opening, administrators are dealing with a 600-thousand dollar shortfall that will affect other branches, too.
It's expensive to run a library like this. And this shortfall will mean cuts -- the kind of cuts people will notice.
Already there are signs the new library could use more money than it gets. Some selections are thin -- especially in the audio-visual department. But the budget for new materials is being cut by a whopping 18 per cent.
Nancy Tessman/Library Director: "I THINK THEY'RE VERY SEVERE. I'VE WORKED FOR THE LIBRARY FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS AND THEY'RE THE MOST SERIOUS REDUCTIONS I'VE SEEN."
Richard Piatt, Eyewitness News: "THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE INCLUDING LIBARY ADMINISTRATORS THEMSELVES WHO ARE FINDING IT IRONIC THAT THESE CUTS ARE COMING AT A TIME WHEN THIS NEW BUILDING IS SPARKING MORE INTEREST IN THE LIBRARY SYSTEM IN GENERAL."
The library's budget is another victim of the poor economy. Property tax revenue is down. A tax increase for the new library, approved in 1999, isn't enough.
To compensate: Eight library employees will be laid off, remaining staff will not get a raise this year, promotional programs and publicity will be cut. And -- the library won't be able to buy as many books, tapes and C-D's, even as demand soars.
Since the new library opened, visits have tripled; circulation has nearly doubled.
People like Chris Pearce have been inspired to hang out at the library.
Chris Pearce/library patron: "THEY PROVIDE A LOT OF SOCIAL EVENTS AS WELL. AND THE ATMOSPHERE -- IT'S 10-TIMES BETTER."
For library workers, there is a sense of irony and sadness about this situation. But some not describe the situation as 'devastating' -- at least not yet.
Sean Carrico/Library Employee: "I THINK SOME OF THE PATRONS ARE. PEOPLE WHO ARE FAMILIAR WITH THE LIBRARY SYSTEM ARE ALREADY NOTICING IT. PEOPLE WHO ARE NEW TO THE LIBRARY SYSTEM IN GENERAL, I DON'T THINK THEY'RE GOING TO. "
The folks at the library are hoping these cuts will fix their problems. But if not, they say a year from now they may have to ask city council for yet another property tax increase.