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Library supporters urge Ott to maintain hours
Friday, February 20, 2009 by Austin Monitor
Supporters of the Austin Public Library system used a town hall meeting Thursday night at the
“Please just know…from my point of view, the libraries really should be your last resort for cuts because of all the services they provide for the truly indigent,” said Diane Izzo. “My neighborhood has a lot of people who go there, especially in the evening, so cutting the evening hours was really a concern for me. It’s very, very important for our neighborhood.”
People from several different neighborhoods voiced a similar refrain. “A great many of the patrons of the
Ott said he could not promise to hold libraries harmless from future cuts. “Part of what’s so frustrating about this is it’s so unpredictable. I don’t think anybody would have guessed two years ago that not only our city, but our country and the world would have found themselves dealing with such extraordinary conditions,” he said. “We anticipate having some tough decisions in 2010. Will that impact the libraries? It could. It isn’t something that I want to see happen…but we don’t have a lot of options here.”
Ott also said he had asked city staff to re-evaluate the plan for reducing hours at branch libraries on a staggered schedule throughout the week. “I said to these guys, let’s take another hard look at our libraries. Is there an alternative to what we currently have on the menu? And they’re working on that.” The list of proposed budget cuts will be presented again to the City Council next week, but the Council will not need to vote on the cuts. It is the manager’s job to decide what cuts are appropriate.
In addition to pleas to avoid cuts, some members of the audience also suggested areas where the city might be able to trim expenses. “I’m supporting the comprehensive plan we’re going through,” said David Kobierowski, “but we’re spending $1.8 million on the consultant and staff-related fees. So, I’m wondering if we should hold off on spending that much money and first focus on maintaining our libraries and our parks and recreation, and as the economy comes back up, spend money on a comprehensive plan.”
Ott said he would not be inclined to put the effort to draft a replacement for the Austin Tomorrow Plan on the back burner. “I think that the comprehensive plan is critically important to the long-term sustainability of
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