The State Legislature and Governor Rell are still working out how to balance the budget for 2010 and 2011. One of the Governor's proposals will eliminate funding for services at your local library.
"We're not talking a cut, we're zeroed out gone."
That's Chris Bradley, the Director of the Connecticut Library Consortium. The regional Consortium helps libraries negotiate deep discounts on books, media, and databases. She says the discounts on books alone helped save libraries $6.9 million dollars. But under Gov Rell's proposed budget, funding for the the Consortium is eliminated.
The Governor also axes out funding for numerous databases including a web-based service that allows residents to search for materials at all libraries no matter where they live. Bradley says this has huge repurcussions for library patrons.
"You can't go back to the card catalog, you know, it's gone."
Funding for the Connecticard program which allows residents to borrow materials from any library in the state is also eliminated.
Internet service has made libraries pretty popular these days, especially for job seekers who use library computers to look for work. Under the Governor's proposal, funding for the Connecticut Education Network is also gone. The network provides free high speed internet to all libraries and schools.
Director of the Canton Public Library, Robert Simon says not all municipalities will be able to step in and pick up the tab by July 1.
"You know the town would have to pay for it out of its municipal budget which is extremely tight. And if the town could not find the money to pay for it, well, the consequences are pretty unthinkable."
In a statement, Gov Rell says she knows the cuts are unpopular but are a better choice than raising taxes on residents and businesses.
However, Appropriations Committee co-chair, Rep. John Gerogosian says Democratic legislative leaders don't support the draconican cuts to library services and are working to restore the funds.
But there's no telling when the legislature and Rell will come up with a budget agreement so libraries are left operating as is for now.