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State funding cuts force change in library loan policy

Library patrons in West Michigan have always been able to check out a book at one library, and return it to any other library in the area. But, due to state funding cuts, that will change on March 15, 2010. Library patrons throughout the eight-county Lakeland Library Cooperative service area will then need to return materials to the library where they checked them out.

The Lakeland Library Cooperative and its members are making the change in the delivery service to reduce costs, to preserve access to immensely popular  services, such as inter-library loan, and to avoid charging additional fees  to patrons for library use. The previously offered delivery return service was a convenience for patrons that the local libraries and Cooperative simply  can no longer afford to support, particularly in light of additional budget  cuts anticipated with the State’s FY 2010-2011 budget.

The change in the handling of materials comes as the result of a 40 percent reduction in state funding to public libraries and library cooperatives with the 2009-2010 State budget. This reduction is in addition to a 4 percent mid-year cut last year.

The result has been a collective reduction in funding approaching $500,000 to the Lakeland Library Cooperative and its member libraries. The change in the  return process is being made by libraries to reduce delivery volume.

The Lakeland Library Cooperative includes 41 public libraries serving Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo and Ottawa counties.

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