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Library staff, hours cut due to funds
Ward named interim director
Sunday, July 1, 2012
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
The Blue Ridge Regional Library system’s board has reduced the staff and hours at some library branches as a result of budget cuts made by Henry County and Martinsville officials last week.
In response to the library system no longer operating the Bassett Historical Center effective today, the Henry County Board of Supervisors cut its share of funding to the system by $80,310 while Martinsville City Council cut its share by $36,766. Patrick County is considering imposing cuts.
Because of the cuts, library system Director Drusilla Carter wrote in a fax to the Martinsville Bulletin that the library system has eliminated two positions, reduced the working hours of five part-time employees by 25 percent and changed one full-time position to a part-time job.
She did not elaborate on whether the eliminated positions were full- or part-time and she could not be reached by phone after she sent the fax.
Also, operating hours at the Collinsville, Ridgeway and Bassett branch libraries will be reduced by a total of 28 hours, Carter wrote in the fax.
The Ridgeway and Collinsville libraries will be closed one day a week and the Bassett library no longer will be open any mornings, Carter wrote.
According to the library system’s website, the Ridgeway branch no longer will open on Wednesdays and the Collinsville branch no longer will open on Saturdays. As of Friday night, hours listed on the website for the Bassett branch did not yet reflect the loss of hours in the mornings.
None of the branches traditionally have been open on Sundays.
Library board Chairman Paula Burnette said all library system branches will continue to have newspapers and magazines. The possibility of losing those periodicals at some branches was discussed in response to cuts in funding.
Reductions in some line-item expenses — including the director’s salary because Carter is leaving — were made to cover the costs of the periodicals, Burnette said. She could not immediately recall the other reductions.
She said it was realized that periodical subscriptions could not be eliminated for certain branches and not others because they are “a bulk order” for the entire system.
In another matter, Richard E. Ward, manager of the Patrick County branch of the library system, has been named the system’s interim director.
Burnette announced Ward’s selection for the interim job in a press release Friday afternoon. She said he was chosen by the board and the budget issues were addressed during a special meeting Thursday.
Carter recently resigned so she can move to Connecticut and care for sick relatives there. Burnette has said the resignation probably will take effect in mid-July.
Ward has headed Patrick County’s library branch since 2006. Previously, he was the assistant reference librarian and later the reference supervisor at the Martinsville branch. He has a bachelor’s degree in business management from High Point University and a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
He is active in and a past president of the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce, and he has been involved in the Blue Ridge Arts and Theater Society.
Burnette said Ward is “well-known and respected” in Martinsville and Henry County as well as Patrick County.
“He’s got the experience” that an interim library system director needs as well as knowledge of the area, she added.
Reached on her cell phone while she was out of the area Friday, Burnette said she could not recall whether the board’s vote for Ward was unanimous. However, she said all board members now back him for the interim post.
Ward could not be reached for comment Friday. In a 2003 interview with the Martinsville Bulletin shortly after he was named reference supervisor, he said he enjoys library work because “I’m a people person. I love helping people.”
Burnette said she does not know if Ward is interested in the director’s job permanently.
“If he wants to apply for it, he can,” she said.