Some public libraries are forced to make tough decisions due to the state budget stalemate.
While the Pennsylvania budget passed earlier this year, lawmakers remain gridlocked over certain parts.
The dispute over taxpayer-funded school vouchers is now hurting key programs like libraries.
Some libraries in our area are being forced to cut back on services.
Lawmakers are not due back in Harrisburg until the second week of December and library directors are just left in limbo not knowing if they’ll receive their state aid on time.
Signs are posted all over the Pocono Mountain Public Library in Coolbaugh Township asking for legislative action.
Pocono Mountain Public Library Director Ann Shincovich, MA MLIS says, "They haven’t finished passing the fiscal code bills for the portion of the state budget that covers the public libraries, we’re concerned that we won’t get our state aid in the correct timing during the first quarter."
While the first state payment isn’t supposed to arrive until January, that uncertainty is causing the library to act like it’s running out of money. The director is cutting programming like children’s activities especially ones requiring special supplies and adult classes like Chair Yoga, and new book purchases.
Shincovich says, "This causes a lot of hardship for our patrons, especially in the winter time when people are stuck at home. It’s kind of dreary, they really look forward to coming to the library for our programs and our books and just being in a space where they can enjoy themselves."
The hope is that it’s resolved before it gets any worse where they are forced to furlough staff like they did back in 20-15.
Shincovich says, "When that happens, that impact kind of keeps rolling forward, you know, there’s a hit on the flow of money, there’s a hit on how you’re spending your money and it takes a awhile to recover from that."
The Eastern Monroe Public Library in Stroud Township is fairing a little bit better, at least right now, thanks to having reserve money.
Eastern Monroe Public Library Director Susan Lyons says, "Our budget for this year is pretty much in so I think we’re ok through the end of the year. If the impasse isn’t resolved, I think we will have to start looking into what cuts we can make."
Both directors are encouraging you to contact your local lawmakers to ensure they vote on the fiscal code and complete the budget before libraries are harmed.