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Library system announces layoffs

Staff to be reduced by 30 to compensate for loss of state funds

WARREN — A projected decrease in state funding that caused the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library to reduce library hours and services also has made it necessary for the system to reduce its staff level by 30 employees.

Library Director Jim Wilkins said layoffs effective Tuesday will reduce the number of library employees by about 25 percent across the system. The Warren-Trumbull County Public Library includes libraries in Brookfield, Cortland, Howland, Liberty, Lordstown and Warren; a Bookmobile; and Homebound Library Service.

One employee is retiring and 29 employees have been laid off permanently. The layoffs include positions across multiple library locations and departments.

“This has been an extremely difficult decision,” Wilkins said. “We understand the impact this action will have on our employees and their families in what is already a very challenging time.”

The library system had furloughed 97 full- and part-time employees in early May as a result of the library’s extended closure due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty of those furloughed employees were brought back to the library when it reopened June 1 — and 37 will be returning when the library moves to the second phase of its reopening plan.

Wilkins said a projected decrease in state funding means the library is looking at a potential loss of revenue of nearly $1 million per year. About 56 percent of the library system’s budget comes from the Public Library Fund, which receives 1.7 percent of the total general tax revenue collected by the state.

The layoffs combined with other cost-saving measures, including a reduction in the materials budget, will save the library nearly $1 million.

“As we realized that our funding will be greatly reduced for the remainder of the year, it became clear it is necessary to reduce our operating costs,” Wilkins said. “As good stewards of our public funds, we feel compelled to take this step to keep within our budget.”

The cuts in staffing align with a reduction of library hours implemented following the library’s reopening. Prior to the March 2020 shutdown, the library system had been open 325 hours per week across all of its locations. The library system currently is open 200 hours per week. When the library enters the next phase of its reopening plan, all locations will be open for a combined 284 hours per week.

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