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Morristown Public Library grapples with 4K in funding cuts

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MORRISTOWN - The Morristown Public Library has lost more than $4,000 in funding in 2013, forcing staff to divert funding away from growth projects to maintain current programing.

“We’re going to have to cut services,” Library Director Bridget C. Whalen-Nevin said. “I’m still in shock.”

At Tuesday’s meeting the Morristown Town Council passed its 2014 budget that includes dropping funding for the library from $8,000 to $6,000.

That decrease comes after St. Lawrence County pulled all of its library funding out of the county budget in 2013, meaning that the $2,300 county contribution the library had relied on dried up completely.

The 2013 operating budget for the library is roughly $40,000 Mrs. Whalen-Nevin said, adding that the cuts in funding are “substantial.”

With more than 800 active patrons Mrs. Whalen-Nevin said the cuts are going to curtail projects to upgrade the library’s electrical system, add addition space to the one-room building, install a long-distance phone line so patrons can send faxes outside of the immediate area and increase programing.

People visit the library from Morristown, Brier Hill, parts of Hammond and the outskirts of Ogdensburg, Mrs. Whalen-Nevin said, noting that because the library is part of the North Country Library System they play a role in circulating reading material throughout the county.

“This is not a sleepy little library,” Mrs. Whalen-Nevin said.

Already the library has been thinking outside the box to secure additional funding.

The Plein Air Festival, held in August, saw more than 20 artists visit Morristown and auction off paintings of the region to help raise money for the library.

Mrs. Whalen-Nevin said that event, which only came about thanks to hundreds of volunteer hours from members of the community, took in roughly $8,000 for the library.

But with the recent cuts that money will be invested largely in maintaining the status quo instead of expanding the capabilities of the library, Mrs. Whalen-Nevin said.

The library board of trustees will meet on Monday at 7 p.m. at the library, 200 Main St., to discuss the recent cuts and next year’s budget.

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