Rural areas need libraries' services

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To Our Members of the General Assembly:
I am writing on behalf of the Friends of the Grayson County Public Library about the proposed reduction in state funding for Virginia libraries.
As a volunteer community organization we are concerned about maintaining services in our local Wythe-Grayson Regional Library System as well as statewide.
Virginians more than ever are turning to their local libraries for assistance in job searching, access to computers for Internet research, cultural programming for adults and children and recreational reading, videos, CDs and DVDs.
In our local system during July-December 2011, a total of 74,882 books, magazines and other materials were circulated.
This is an increase of 4.85 percent over the same time period in 2010 and includes 261 e-books and downloadable audio books.
Also, 6,321 people used in-house computers and Internet access available without charge at the libraries, 776 new patrons signed up for services and 457 people asked for reference assistance.
The community was able to come into the library to read local newspapers and a variety of magazines.  During this six-month period, 3,273 children and adults attended juvenile story telling programs and 779 people participated in adult programs.
Our libraries also provided meeting room space for 215 community meetings.
The state budget proposes a 2 percent cut in aid to libraries for the next two years. This will reduce statewide funding by $295,436 each year and reduce the ability to meet community needs.
Given the limitations on available funds from our counties and localities, we cannot look to them to make up this new reduction in funding.
Such a decrease in funds could result in decreased staffing and hours of service, purchase of fewer books, magazines, e-books and downloadable audio books and less opportunity for availability of information databases and Internet access.
Our state library system is already suffering from prior reductions in funding and state aid is more than $14 million short of the mandated level.
We ask you to support legislative action to maintain the library funds at least at the current state levels.
Mary F. Kelley
Friends of the Grayson County Public Library