Plan to cut Fresno County library hours shot down

FRESNO, Calif.

Library buildings may be less relevant in the digital age, but Fresno's County supervisor Phil Larson is among those who think a plan to reduce hours at some branches will hurt too many people.

"I'm talking about students I'm talking about people who just want to come in and read, which I think is important to the community."

The county's Chief Librarian, Laural Prysiazny came under fire from Larson and the four other board members on Tuesday over her plan to trim hours when libraries had little use, as part of a plan to try and reach out to the people who don't use the library at all. She says that includes most county residents.

"Only 35 percent of the residents are registered library users. That means 65 percent who don't use the library but still contribute to it financially."

Her plan to reduce hours at some branches from 2 to 10 hours a week was aimed at saving money to finance a modernization program. Prysiazny believes a virtual library, and a library without walls, a mobile service to reach more people would help make the library accessible to more people. But Supervisor Debbie Poochigian was concerned about cutting library hours in rural communities.

"We've got Reedley, Sanger, Selma, Auberry, I mean I love the rural communities, but that's all that's happening in those rural communities at 6 o'clock at night, sometimes that's the only place for these kids to go."

Prysiazny agreed not to cut the hours, and to figure out how much it would cost to modernize the system to reach more users without cutting branch hours.

The voter approved Measure B sales tax funds about half the libraries costs, Prysizazny says there's not enough to do it all. The question is will the board of Supervisors be willing to increase their share of the library budget to pay for it.

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