Budget woes close a dozen south Mississippi libraries

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

STONE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Budget woes have closed the doors at a dozen of south Mississippi's libraries, at least for now. The Pine Forest Regional Library System, which includes Stone County, is in the middle of a two week shut down. Officials say it's because of state budget cuts.

Libraries are supposed to be quiet, but not silent. On a typical day, librarians say about 100 people patronized the McHenry Library. However, no one can check out a book or log onto the internet because the library is closed.

Teresa Forrester is Stone County Library Board President.

"The budget cut has been $38,0000 over the past year," Forrester said. "You can't have that kind of budget cut without it having major implications."

After this two week temporary closing, the McHenry and Wiggins branches will reopen, but for fewer days each week.

"If the library is closed, then the people cannot come to the library and use the computers to look for jobs and such and check out books," Forrester said.

Stone County Supervisor Wendell Patton said while money is tight, Governor Haley Barbour should know hurting education is not the answer.

"I hate to see it in education because that's the future of our young people coming up in the communities," said Patton. "They need to have all the hands on information they can get. He's got to cut it somewhere, but I wish it was somewhere else."

Stone County contributes $70,000 a year to the libraries. This week supervisors approved a request to make monthly payments instead of quarterly. The board also chipped in another $5,000 to prevent future shut downs.

Patton said, "We're going to do everything to keep it open because once something closes, it's hard to get it back open. We don't even want to think about that word 'closing.'"

Officials said all the libraries in Stone, Covington, Perry and Greene Counties are closed, and ill not reopen until next week. County officials are urging the public to contact state officials and push them to restore funding to the libraries.

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