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Cuts starting to take effect at PO Library

Starting this week, the Port Orchard branch of the Kitsap Regional Library will lose a few hours and its readers will lose a few days of book reading after new cost-cutting measures take effect.

After a tax levy lift was rejected by Kitsap County voters last year, the KRL decided in November to implement two significant changes — a reduction in operating hours and the elimination of the one-week grace period offered to readers before a daily fine of 25 cents was imposed.

“We need to balance our budget while meeting the needs of our most important customers,” said Kitsap Regional Library Executive Director Jill Jean when the changes were announced last November after being approved by the KRL board.

Wally Clark, a reference librarian at the Port Orchard library, said the fees are not meant as a way to collect money from patrons, but to keep the materials circulating as much as possible amongst as many people as possible.

“We needed improve the turnaround of materials,” Clark said. “Since we have less money now to spend on books, we need to get our books back quicker.”

Previously, Clark said if patrons made a book request — asking the library to purchase a title it didn’t have — they were “almost assured to get it. Now, we have to look really hard at what we spend our money on.”

Clark said removing the grace period was not done lightly, either.

“A woman called me and kept me on the phone for 25 minutes telling me how much of a hardship the reduced time was going to be,” Clark said, explaining that the library does not want people to incur fines. “Our auto-notification system will now call or e-mail you the week before your book is due. We don’t want you to have fines.”

The downtown library will also be open a few less hours each week now, along with the other libraries in the system. The days affected are Thursdays, when the branch will not open until 1 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, when the library will only be open four hours each day from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“It’s a natural reality of having to save money,” said KRL Board Member Althea Paulson. “We haven’t cut any jobs, although there are some positions that won’t be filled.”

A total of 44 hours are being cut, spread over nine libraries.

Bainbridge Island, Port Orchard, Poulsbo, Silverdale and Sylvan Way will each lose seven hours. Libraries losing three are Downtown Bremerton, Little Boston and Manchester.

Other changes for the Port Orchard Library include:

• Materials on hold are now self-service — Patrons can now retrieve the books, movies or other items they placed on hold themselves. The items are displayed in alphabetical order near the reading nook, to the left of the checkout counter.

• Interim Branch Manager Kathleen Wilson has now been officially appointed by the KRL as the branch’s new manager.

Kitsap County News Writer Charlie Bermant contributed to this report.

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