Governor Matt Bevin’s proposed budget would eliminate state funding for local libraries. The cuts could force some of Kentucky’s rural-most libraries close their doors.
Bevin’s budget proposal calls for the elimination of direct local aid and non-construction aid to libraries.
Dave Schroeder is on the Executive Board for the Kentucky Library Association. He said the cuts could hinder libraries’ ability to provide new books, internet access… and, in some cases, to keep their doors open.
“Any kind of cut is you know, difficult. But to eliminate all of state aid for some of these libraries is going to be devastating.” Schroeder said.
Libraries in Ballard, Carlisle, Hickman and Elliot counties get nearly 90% of their funding through the state.
In far west Kentucky, the Ballard-Carlisle County Library runs on volunteers and is only open two days a week. The Hickman County Library is only open for three hours a day, five days a week.
Schroeder said the cuts could make a big difference in these and other rural communities.
He said libraries act as a reliable safe space where parents to leave their children while at work. He said an often overlooked aspect of libraries is that they offer free internet access, which can be utilized by rural communities who might not always have access to computers at home.
Schroeder said the cuts could also endanger the Bookmobile program in some counties, which acts as a mobile library carrying books to rural areas. Kentucky has one of the most expansive Bookmobile programs in the U.S.
Schroeder said he expects patrons and politicians that support libraries will speak out against the cuts.