LOWELL | The Lowell Public Library Board will be approving required cuts to reduce expenses by $35,000 for the remainder of the year.
Board member Rebecca Salter said Library Director Gene Pidzarko will be making the cuts within parameters the board discussed in May.
"This is probably tougher than in the past," Salter said.
She commended Pidzarko and past Director Sandy Morgan for creativity in operating with less.
Pidzarko said the library's maximum levy for the operating fund has been frozen at $839,000 for the past five years.
"A 4 percent decrease in funds may not seem that much, but keep in mind that during those years we have had no increase in money for growth rate or cost of living while expenses have continued to rise," Pidzarko said.
Pidzarko said the additional reduction in revenue by $35,000 is due to a lower tax collection percentage and circuit-breaker credits.
"We've looked at not filling an open staff position at this time," he said.
In fact, the Lowell Library Board and administration have, in the past, reduced library hours, not filled positions when staff left and asked staff to take voluntary time off.
Board member Wayne Wietbrock said, "We'll be all right. ... The staff has been very good about taking furloughs."
Last year the board elected to close the library at 8 p.m. to reduce costs, Wietbrock said.
"We're not like Crown Point and Hammond. We're not in debt. ... We make small cuts. They add up," he said.
Salter said the board is traditionally frugal, but "this time, we had no choice."
Pidzarko said libraries nationwide, including the Lowell Public Library, will kick off their summer reading programs in mid-June.
"We have fewer staff than last year and had to cut back on some activities, but our eight-week program still provides reading clubs for all ages, and we have scheduled over 60 special programs for the young children and teenagers to help promote reading," Pidzarko said.
"For the last three days, moms and children have been packing the library. So far, we have issued 65 new library cards, 301 children have signed up for the summer reading programs, and more than 3,100 books have been taken home," he said.
The Lowell Public Library serves Cedar Creek, West Creek and Eagle Creek Townships, the towns of Lowell and Schneider and unincorporated Shelby and Lake Dalecarlia.