Garfield libraries booked solid with visitors |

Garfield libraries booked solid with visitors

Garfield County libraries are popular. There’s no doubt about that.

In fact, there were 14,000 more visits to the Garfield County Library System’s six libraries in 2002 than in 2001. And collectively, in 2002, the libraries circulated more than 261,000 pieces of material and fielded more than 34,000 reference questions.

That’s according to statistics compiled by Jaci Spuhler, director of the Garfield County Library System. The system encompasses libraries in Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, New Castle, Silt, Rifle and Parachute, which provides a unique lending relationship between libraries in the county. The three libraries with the largest circulation are Glenwood, Rifle and New Castle.

Spuhler said those with home computers may stay away from the library a bit more than they have in the past, but libraries are becoming increasingly popular for those with no computer at home.

“People have to reserve time to access our Internet terminals in Glenwood and Carbondale,” she added, noting that tourists often find access to e-mail helpful when they’re away from home.

Spuhler is pleased to see so many people are visiting area libraries. However, as the county’s population continues to grow, its libraries aren’t keeping pace – both in terms of funding and actual space.

“With all of the libraries, we’re at or beyond capacity,” she said.

The problem boils down to money.

“Statewide, Gov. Owens cut $2.5 million from library budgets this year,” Spuhler said. For Garfield County, that amounted to $12,200 less – even while library use is increasing.

Spuhler said paying for staff to adequately serve the public is the library system’s “biggest issue.” Out of the Garfield County Library System’s overall budget of $1.5 million budget, $1 million is spent on staffing and health insurance.

Even with budget cuts, however, Spuhler was able to recently added three 29-hour positions at the libraries in Glenwood Springs, Rifle and New Castle – positions she said had to be filled.

“Staff members help with processing and shelving,” she said, adding the importance of having competent, permanent staff who properly retrieve and catalog data, field reference questions and interact with the public.

Besides salaries, employee health insurance costs are affecting library budgets. Spuhler said over the past year, health insurance rates for the library system’s staff have increased 32 percent.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

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