Updated: Apr 28
Nearly half of the funding for the Public Library is generated from revenue streams from the state of Ohio through the Public Library Fund. The other half comes from the taxpayers of Hamilton County, through two levies. With the current conditions of the coronavirus pandemic sending the economy into free fall, the exact funding loss for the library this year is still unknown; however, current projections foresee a 20 to 30 percent budget gap, equating to anything from an eight to twelve million dollar loss. To combat these substantial losses, the library has no choice but to make some hard decisions.
The Public Library currently employs 809 individuals. Beginning on May 3, 2020, that number will be 703, as 106 individuals will be furloughed. These employees typically worked part-time, anywhere between 1-12 hours per week. The library leadership is also not exempt from this funding nightmare, with a five to ten percent salary reduction across the board. The Director of the Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Library, Paula Brehm-Heeger, is taking a 15 percent salary reduction.
Additional savings beyond employee furloughs and salary cuts will still be needed, but the library chose to prioritize staffing decisions to seize the benefits of the CARES Act, or Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Capitalizing on this program will ensure funding is made available to the staff that has been impacted by these unprecedented times. "This pandemic has left us with no good choices, and making this difficult decision is especially distressing. I am heartened, however, when I recall how together we have risen to meet past challenges, and I know that our collective passion and perseverance will carry us through these extraordinary times together, too," said Paula Brehm-Heeger, Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Library Director.
The Public Library has been closed since March 13; therefore, none of the changes happening on May 3 will affect services currently offered. During this ongoing closure, the library has encouraged residents to take advantage of their digital materials and services, upon which they continue to expand.
Please visit CincinnatiLibrary.org for more information about the services being offered.