WILKES-BARRE — The Osterhout Free Library will cut its hours at the end of the month because of decreased funding, said executive director Richard Miller.
The cuts apply throughout the system and come at a time when the demand for library services have increased, Miller said Friday.
“When the economy sours, people visit their libraries more,” he said. Families cut back on vacations and use the library’s resources. Job seekers come in and prepare resumes on line. Overall, about 180,000 people visit the main library or one of its branches annually, Miller said.
“Since the recession started in 2009 we’ve faced declining income from government (sources),” he said Friday. The library has an annual budget of about $2 million.
The cumulative effect has been more than a 20-percent reduction, Miller said. The largest decrease was from the state at just over $225,000 in 2009.
The hours of operation at the main branch on South Franklin Street will be cut by a total of six hours a week. The branches will lose about five hours.
“We’ve had to decrease some hours of people working,” added Miller. A half dozen employees are affected.
The library system also has cut back on material purchases and delayed some non-emergency maintenance. “Over the years we’ve been trying to nibble away at it, hoping the funding can be restored,” Miller said.
In addition to the main library, there are branches on Oliver Street and Airy Street in Wilkes-Barre and on North Main Street in Plains Township.
The library has tried to increase fundraising to make up for the reduction in government funds, Miller said. Fundraising and endowment sources account for about 30 percent of the annual budget.