Harford library director not surprised by Craig's denial of budget increase

Harford County library will not be getting the 2.4 percent budget increase it requested for fiscal year 2015, which did not surprise Library Director Mary Hastler.

The library system had asked for an additional $400,610 but was again struck down by Harford County Executive David Craig.

"We have had pretty much a flat budget for the past few years," Hastler said after a board of trustees meeting in Bel Air Thursday.

The extra funds would have gone toward library materials, such as more e-books and special collections, she said.

With the request struck down, "we will go back and look at the budget and take it back to the flat level," Hastler said.

Although "you always hope for a staff increase," Hastler noted she "pretty much knew" the increase would not be granted.

Hastler said she continues to worry for her employees and the library system has been freezing positions, evaluating each role as it becomes vacant.

"It is what it is," she said of the situation. "I worry about the staff, because it's tough, because our salaries are very, very low compared to other library systems and [other county agencies]."

State aid for the library was also reduced by $4,320, she said.

The library's $16.1 million proposed budget, a $21,121 decrease from last year, is set to be reviewed by the Harford County Council on April 29.

New hires, successful events

Despite the flat budget, the library announced three new hires – two library associates and one specialist – within the past month.

One page was also promoted to library assistant, while another library assistant retired.

The Aberdeen library, which was closed April 7 through 11 so its lobby could be refurbished, faced a minor setback when the new desk for the lobby was involved in a car accident.

Hastler said the truck delivering the desk was in a traffic accident April 9 and caught fire, causing minor damage to the item. The desk was returned to the manufacturer for repair and the desk is set to be installed April 22.

Romancing the Chrome Car Show, which drew 2,000 people to Jarrettsville, was one of several successful events for the library recently, Hastler and associate director Daria Parry said.

A "living history" performance by an artist playing Georgia O'Keeffe also drew 125 people to the Bel Air branch, Parry said.

The board approved an early closing for the Abingdon branch on May 29 for another Author's Night Out event, with Lisa Scottoline.

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