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State Library cuts may hurt MRRL programs

Summer reading effort, electronic resources cited by director

Missouri River Regional Library's main facility in Jefferson City

Missouri River Regional Library's main facility in Jefferson City Photo by Stephen Brooks.

Eliminating 13 positions from the Missouri State Library could affect programs at Jefferson City’s public library.

“We’re concerned because some of the eliminated positions oversee the programs we use,” Helen Rigdon, Missouri River Regional Library director, said at Tuesday’s monthly library board meeting.

Secretary of State Jason Kander announced nearly two weeks ago plans to cut 10 State Library jobs in the business year starting July 1 and plans of eliminating three jobs through attrition. Most of the cuts are in reference services and library development.

Rigdon said the library community has only received information that the original press release stated — the savings, around $500,000 in salaries, will be used for extra grant funding.

One of the positions being eliminated falls within the library development division’s youth services, a department that helps local libraries provide better services to its younger patrons. The eliminated position focused on early childhood literacy and summer reading.

Rigdon said the position oversaw MRRL’s summer reading program, as well as other summer reading programs at libraries across the state.

“That program helps more than 200,000 kids in the state,” she said.

She also said MRRL is concerned about what will happen to some of its electronic resources that are supported by the State Library.

She said members of the Missouri Library Association and Missouri Public Library Directors have written letters to Kander, requesting a meeting between library representatives, Kander and his chief of staff.

“They announced it, but we have not seen a definite plan and that concerns us,” Rigdon said.

In other action, the board was told:

• Rigdon sent a letter to the City Council and attended the open houses and public hearings that discussed the proposed cuts to JeffTran.

• The Bookmobile has been out of commission since last week due to transmission problems.

• MRRL’s Foundation mini-golf fundraiser raised $3,800, making it the foundation’s largest fundraiser.

• MRRL will send a library representative to the American Library Leadership Institute in Itasca, Ill. in August.

• MRRL has filled the vacant public information officer position and the new employee will start May 28.

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