By Erica Semsch, Ozarks News Journal
Springfield, Mo. – Changes could be coming to libraries across the state. Governor Jay Nixon made the decision to withhold or veto over one billion dollars of the state legislature’s budget. This means libraries might see at lose at least 6.6 million dollars in state aid.
Regina Greer Spector is the Executive library director for the Springfield-Greene County libraries, and she says they will have to find a way to come up with the money. “Unless things change, we are going to have to find another two hundred thousand dollars that we already had in the budget.”
Libraries like Springfield-Greene County have grown to rely on the funds, according to Spector. “I’ve been in this job for five and a half years and we’ve always gotten our state aid and we count on that state aid…all the libraries do throughout the state. And to have that totally taken away so that we are getting zero dollars at this point, in state aid, has been a real blow…we will probably take bits of money from all throughout the budget to add it back in.”
Materials available for checkout and public internet access could be affected by the cuts. In some case, the library is the only place where people can find that.
Brendan Waynick, a local library patron explains the importance of library funding, “This was for the longest time, a big place for me to get my only internet at. So any kind of budget cuts…to take that away? It’s going to hurt a lot of people.”
Some patrons can’t afford it or they can’t get access in rural areas. Internet access is a necessity. Waynick said, “I know a lot of people who just come here to pay their bills because a lot of places only pay online nowadays. So the only place they can get the internet is here.”
Librarians are reminding Missouri citizens they do have a voice. Regina explains, “We feel like the more the governor can hear from the citizens that this directly effects, maybe that will have an effect on his thought process and maybe he will feel comfortable releasing these funds.”
Funds that many Missourians are relying on—for many reasons.