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Library system reorganization affects Lunenburg

SoVaNow.com / May 29, 2013
Leigh Lambert, Executive Director of the Southside Regional Library System, this week announced a two-phase reorganization of the library system effective July 1, 2013. She said the reorganization, which affects two library branches in Lunenburg County, is “designed to provide a sustainable balanced budget for the library in this fiscal environment.”

Phase one includes replacing the full-time branch supervisor positions at both Ripberger Public Library (RPL) and Victoria Public Library (VPL) with a single Lunenburg Libraries supervisor. The new position will be responsible for managing both RPL and VPL. Plans are to fill this new supervisor position during the first quarter of fiscal year 2014.

Phase two of the reorganization will concentrate on enhancing part-time library assistants’ schedules at both RPL and VPL with the goal of increasing operating hours at both locations later in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Lambert said the library expects to save money by making these changes, but said it was too soon to project a cost savings. She added that the reorganization does not have anything to do with concerns raised last year by Mecklenburg County supervisor Glenn Barbour, who questioned why Mecklenburg County should bear the lion’s share of financial support for the library system that covers both Lunenburg and Mecklenburg counties.

Preparing the FY 2014 budget, Lambert said she took into consideration the financial constraints facing both counties, and prepared a sustainable balanced budget for the library system. She acknowledged that Lunenburg’s financial concerns were greater than those in Mecklenburg and this drove the decision to reorganize only the Lunenburg branches.

Library officials are committed to serving community members’ evolving needs for years to come, said Lambert. SRL will maintain its vision to encourage a “love of learning and access to technology in a helpful, peaceful, creative environment to foster growth and development for all individuals,” she added.

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It is disheartening that the Southside Regional Library (SRL) Director and Trustees kept their reorganization plans a secret from Lunenburg.
Since 2010, the Director has pushed for this reorganization: she maintains Lunenburg funding is not adequate to sustain both shared costs and personnel costs. She states reorganization will save money and provide a sustainable balanced budget, yet after eliminating two Lunenburg positions she is budgeting $7,388 more for FY14 personnel costs.
After incurring unbudgeted expenses, with Trustees’ approval, in each of the past three fiscal years (including a salary increase in FY12)—the Ripberger Library and Victoria Library Friends groups bailed her out with sizable donations—the Director says she can operate SRL in FY14, particularly the Lunenburg libraries, with flat funding, but I don't believe it. If she couldn't do it the past three fiscal years (her first three years on the job), how does she expect to do it this upcoming fiscal year?


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