Butte County’s disappearing libraries

Director’s memo outlines drastic impacts of budget cuts

If the Butte County Board of Supervisors adopts the budget that has been proposed for 2009-10, according to Library Director Derek Wolfgram, it will allow the six county library branches to be open only 60 hours in total—12 in Chico, Oroville, Paradise and Gridley; six in Biggs and Durham—a reduction of 71 percent from the current 219 hours.

“Twelve hours per week of library service in a city of almost 90,000 persons is unconscionable,” he writes.

The budget will also result in a staff reduction from 35.25 full-time-equivalent employees at the beginning of the 2008-09 fiscal year to 13 FTE, a cut of 64 percent.

That was the scenario Wolfgram laid out in a March 31 e-mail message to the Board of Supervisors. The communiqué offers a long list of services that will be reduced in availability or eliminated altogether. The supervisors will take up the proposed budget at their May 19 meeting.

If enacted, Wolfgram writes, the budget will create the worst ratio of library employees to residents served in the state of California.