By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Book circulation at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County dropped 3 percent in January, coinciding with the system's second reduction in branch hours in six months, library officials said Monday.
"I think I've heard more complaints about the hours," library board President Elizabeth LaMacchia said, than about last summer's failed proposal to close five branches.
The library reduced hours at many of its 41 branches on Jan. 2, including ending Sunday hours for all except the main library downtown. The move was the latest response to cuts in state funding - the library's chief source of money - in the past year.
"I think it's showing in circulation - these things hurt," board member Charles Lindberg said at Monday's monthly meeting.
Most of the circulation drop was in branches that had the biggest cuts in their hours, Library Services Director Keith Kuhn said. Branches less affected by the changes saw an increase in circulation, he said.
"It is our most critical indicator of success," Kuhn said of the numbers showing how many books and other materials are checked out of the library.
The good news, Clerk/Treasurer Patricia Schoettker said, is that reductions in staff and hours should put the system's $51.2 million budget in good stead even if lower income tax collections reduce state funding. The library could get $1 million less than expected in March and almost $2.7 million less in July, Schoettker said.
The library brought in about $3,000 in new income in January, Kuhn said, by starting up a new passport application service. About 100 applications were processed on behalf of the federal government, and the library gets $30 of the fee for each one. The library took on passport-application processing because it provides a service to patrons as well as making money, spokeswoman Amy Banister said.
Lindberg expressed concern about straying too far from the library's mission, but board member Tara Khoury said she sees benefits to services such as passport processing and income tax forms.
"It's a way to get more people in the door," Khoury said.
TOP LOCAL STORIES
Chief supports officer in shooting
'Survivor' hopefuls go to extremes
Employers boost call-up benefits for reservists
Callups thin police, fire departments
Educators, parents protest school funding cuts
Walking man's goal: Great Wall
RADEL: Mistakes weren't repeated after fatal shooting
PULFER: Climbing on scales at airport
PHOTOS OF THE DAY
Dog rescued from icy pond
Jogging in the snow
Soldier of snow
Library circulation falls
Audits would precede levies
Recreation chief chided over lobbying
Children respond to terrier
AROUND THE TRISTATE
Tristate A.M. Report
Access social services: Call 211
Regulators give green light to doctor-pay comparisons
Good News: Bluegrass, gospel come to East End
Obituary: William Love led church in hymns
Fairfield city manager gets 13.6% raise
More testing expected for lead
Teen's dilemma: Take new car or $20K?
Labor activists target Miami
Fairfield 2-mill school levy on May 6 ballot
HUD to monitor Butler Co. housing agency
Clermont bus notices called false
Ohio Moments: Edison's bright ideas hatched at home
Ludlow halts classes to plea for school funding
Uzbekistan aliens held in N.Ky.
Justin appeal nears 1 year
Florence police focus on growth of Hispanics
Patton: No plans to resign