Many libraries have had to cut hours and close their doors some days this recession.
The state has cut funding to libraries 30 percent in the last few years, and on top of that money from local property taxes is down, as well as private funding.
So libraries have trimmed staff, hours and days in some cases.
Recently, the Chattahoochee Valley system in Columbus closed a handful of branches one weekday. Its director Claudya Muller says patrons aren’t happy, but they’re rotating the days so people could hop to another branch if the closest is closed. She says they’ve tried to make up for lost revenue over the years.
“We raised overdue fines from ten cents to 25 cents a day. And we started charging out of area residents for library cards. It now costs you $35 a year for a library card," says Muller.
Libraries have maintained a steady patronage despite fewer hours.
State librarian Lamar Veatch with the Georgia Public Library Service says the reductions have come in light of a need for crucial services.
“So if you don’t happen to have computer at home or you can’t afford internet at home, the public library has become a place where you may need to come to fill out that job application. The library has become a safety net for people who need access to technology and access to information,” says Veatch.
Muller confirms. She says that there’s more people using their online resources hunting for jobs and taking advantage of their internet even after hours, hanging out on library property.