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Circulation, budget up at new Hoag Library

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 May 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Circulation has surged at Hoag Library in Albion since the new site opened in July.

ALBION – A new building with more space for books, meeting rooms and parking spaces resulted in a record-high for circulation for Albion’s public library.

Albion’s library actually closed for five weeks last year, during June and the first week of July, while the library collection and staff moved from the historic Swan Library site in the downtown to a new building on South Main Street. The combination of circulation at Swan and the new Hoag Library totaled 93,089 in 2012, up 20.9 percent from the 77,019 in 2011.

“Isn’t that an amazing jump?” said Susan Rudnicky, Hoag Library director. She provided the data during the annual meeting of the Swan Library Association on Monday.

This year the circulation is growing at a faster rate. It totaled 39,504 for the first four months of 2013, compared to 22,993 in the same period last year, a 71.8 percent jump. Rudnicky expects the library to break the 100,000-barrier in circulation for the first time this year.

“Clearly, we are exceeding our projections,” said Kevin Doherty, the library board president.

The new library increases the space from about 6,000 square feet at the Swan site to 14,600 at Hoag. The new building has eight wired computer terminals plus five laptops. Three meeting rooms are frequently in use.

The library also faces a rising budget as debt payments are due for the project. The library association took out a five-year $600,000 construction loan and borrowed $1.6 million to be paid back over 20 years for the project. The debt service payments will increase from $64,961 in 2012 to $141,000 this year. That is the main reason the library budget will increase from $658,908 to $678,978 in 2013.

The library has cut the staff from 13 to 12 employees, which resulted in a reduction in salaries and benefits from $366,873 to $330,608. The board also trimmed the budget for library materials from $85,396 to $72,000.

The association will see some debt service relief in the coming years once the five-year loan is paid off and the interest shrinks with the other loan as the principal owed is reduced.

“This is the worst we will have it,” Rudnicky said about the debt payments. “It will get better.”

Doherty noted the naming rights for the children’s library are still available for $75,000. That would provide immediate debt reduction for the library.

Albion Central School residents will vote May 21 for a proposition for the school district to collect $654,000 for the library. That covers the majority of the library budget. The $654,000 is up from $641,210 voters approved for the library last year. Voting will be from noon to 8 p.m. in the elementary school conference room A.