Budget cuts to limit hours at Waveland's new library

The Hancock County Library System's new self-checkout system.
The Hancock County Library System's new self-checkout system.

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - More budget trouble is brewing for coast libraries. This time, the funding crisis is in Waveland. That city's library should reopen by Thanksgiving, but keeping the doors open will be a challenge unless librarians find ways to save money.

Walking into the children's section of the Waveland Library is like stepping aboard Jean Lafitte's pirate ship.

"It is actually linked to a historical character, Jean Lafitte, who lived here in Waveland," said Patty Furr, Hancock County Library System Director. "So we feel like this is going to be great for the kids to learn about local history and have a wonderful place to come and play."

For librarians who are preparing to welcome patrons, the moment is bittersweet because the 8,500-square-foot library won't operate on the typical Monday through Saturday schedule.

"We're not going to have the money to keep it open. We're only going to be open three days a week, which, of course, is disappointing to us," said Furr. "This building is $250,000 a year. That's what we've estimated to operate it and our money from the local sources is only $160,000. We're coming up $90,000 short."

To offset the projected budget shortfall, all Hancock County library branches are installing new technology this week. Having patrons use self-checkouts is just one of several cost saving measures.

"We're being as frugal as we can. We are looking at everything we do to try to save money in whatever way we can," said Furr. "We've recently installed a wonderful new self check system, which will take the place of one to two workers at each our libraries."

Officials say two part-time workers have already lost their jobs, and if state funding comes up short again this year, more layoffs could be on the way.

The current plan in Waveland is to open the library around Thanksgiving, and operate it on Tuesdays, Thursdays and half days Friday and Saturday. Librarians say patrons will be able to come to watch movies and play video games.

The Hancock County Library System has two other branches slated to open soon. The Pearlington branch opens in February. The Diamondhead library opens late next year.

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