The Upshur County Library faces possible loss of its state accreditation because of cuts which the County Commissioners Court made in the institution’s 2011-2012 fiscal year budget, which expired Sept. 30, County Librarian Mark Warren said Thursday.
But Warren said he would appeal any decision by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to revoke the local library’s accreditation because it is a “big deal,” and losing it would have several “ramifications.”
A $36,000 reduction in the library’s budget for the just-ended 2011-2012 fiscal year left the institution short by about that amount of meeting the commission’s requirement for local funding applied toward accreditation, Warren said.
“The ramifications of losing accreditation means that we won’t be able to get competitive grants” from the state library/archives commission, among other consequences, Warren said.
After a 1-year grace period, Upshur library patrons would also lose “interlibrary loan,” a program in which libraries borrow books they don’t have from another library, he said.
Warren termed that “a service we can’t live without. (Losing) it would really cripple us.”
Upshur library patrons would also lose use of the “Texshare program,” a database for researchers containing millions of documents not found in the local library, he said.
The database is unavailable to Internet users at home unless they access it through the county library, Warren noted.
In addition, local patrons would lose use of the “Texshare Card” program, which allows residents of an area to check out books from libraries in other areas which are in the program, he said.
For example, Upshur library users could go to Tyler and borrow a book from a library there, while Longview residents could come here to check one out, Warren explained.
Warren said his annual report to the state library is due March 31, and is based on the budget which expired Sept. 30, not the newly-approved budget which took effect Oct. 1.
When he files the report, he said, he will receive a letter replying “that we are not in compliance with accreditation standards. . . and I will be required to write a letter. . . appealing the decision based on the fact that we weren’t the only county entity that was cut.”
Warren said funding was reduced in the 2011-2012 budget for almost every other department in the county government. He said he had been told that other libraries in the state who lost their accreditation were able to get it restored on the basis that such widespread funding cuts were involved in their situations.
The County Librarian said that if his letter of appeal fails, he will need to go to Austin to defend the library before the state Library/Archives Commission.
“We did receive good news on this year’s (county) budget,” Warren said. “Some adjustments were made, and based on the commissioners’ decision, we have received back (all) the funds that were cut in all of our other line items except for personnel.”
Some $27,000 of the $36,000 reduction in the library’s budget for 2011-2012 was for personnel, he said. As a result, the institution lost one full-time and one part-time employee, said Warren. (The library is also no longer open on Saturdays.)
“We need to ultimately. . . get our employees back,” he said. “That is how we will get that funding back to where it needs to be in our budget.”
County officials have tried to rein in expenses for the past two budget years, and Warren said he knew restoring the employees would be a “difficult thing for the commissioners to do, but this is our accreditation” at stake.
“At this point, there’s not anything really that the average citizen can do” about the situation, he added. “What’s done has been done. I just need to fill out my yearly report and then wait and see what the Texas State Library and Archives Commission tells me what I need to do next.
“We may be able to get our accreditation back again, based on the appeal that we make” through the letter or a trip to Austin, Warren said. “If that doesn’t happen and we’re basically losing our accreditation, I would hope that the commissioners would allow us to rehire” the full-time and part-time employees to regain it, he said.