Due to a lack of funding, the Tompkins County Public Library has not been open on Sundays since the beginning of this month. Additionally, the library has had to reduce its schedule by three hours a week since the beginning of 2003 due to a decline in county funding.
“I think people are very disappointed that the library isn’t open on Sundays,” said Janet Steiner, director, Tompkins County Public Library. “There just isn’t enough [money] to stay open on Sundays; the cost to do that was $1500 for every Sunday.”
However, there have not been adequate contributions to maintain these hours recently.
Many patrons did express disappointment that the library will be closed on Sundays.
“I think it’s too bad,” said Carol Ast, a library patron. “A lot of people only have weekends to go [to the library].”
However, not all patrons feel that the changes will force them to overhaul their schedule to get into the library.
“It won’t effect me personally,” said Peter Miller ’81, a library patron who visits the library on weekdays when he is downtown working.
The library’s funding is primarily composed of money from the county, which accounts of 70 percent of the library’s budget. In spite of the large amount of funding from the county, however, for the library to remain open on Sundays it has to rely entirely on contributions from private donors.
“The county has never funded Sunday hours; it doesn’t consider it a core operational service,” Steiner said. “We started opening on Sundays in September of 1997 due to generous contributions of individuals, businesses and state aid. We have sustained that through private money and state aid up through May of 2003.”
According to Steiner, over the last year and a half, one individual supported all Sunday openings with two gifts of $25,000. Another major source of funding was state aid obtained by Marty Luster, former Assembly member. However, with Sunday hours costing $50,000 for each academic year, not enough money is currently available.
“If someone would like to make a generous contribution, we would be very eager to accept it,” Steiner said. “It’s a great disappointment for us not to be open on Sundays and we hope this is a temporary situation.”
Archived article by David Hillis