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State Cuts Threaten Westport Library Loans

If you're looking for a book that's not carried at the Westport Public Library , librarian Susan Madeo can find that book and have it delivered to Westport from another state library that has it, for your reading pleasure. But this service may not be around much longer unless changes are made to Gov. Dan Malloy's proposed 2011-12 state budget.

"If a patron finds a book that's only available in Greenwich, we can order that book for them to be delivered here," said Madeo, who manages interlibrary loan services at the Westport Public Library. "This is a really valuable service. We probably get around 400 loan requests a month."

This service is made possible through the interlibrary loan program in which the state's libraries, public and academic, share resources. But funding for Connecticard and Connecticar, two state programs that enable interlibrary loans, are at risk under Malloy's budget.

With Connecticard , residents are allowed to check out books from any public library in the state using their hometown library card. Currently, libraries that provide services to nonresidents are reimbursed. But Malloy is proposing to significantly reduce reimbursements. This worries Westport Library Director Maxine Bleiweis.

"We count on reimbursements," Bleiweis said. Last year, Westport was the No. 1 lender in the state, circulating items to residents from 105 of the state's 169 towns. If reimbursements were cut, Bleiweis said the library might have to start charging out-of-town residents for use.

Malloy is also proposing to eliminate funding for Connecticar , the van delivery service that's used to transport borrowed books from one library to another. If this program is cut, Madeo said it would be difficult to maintain interlibrary loan services. Also, it would mean that out-of-town residents would have to return a book to the library it was checked out from, instead of dropping it off at their hometown library.

Although patrons are free to travel to another library for a book they need, Madeo said, “A lot of people don’t have the resources to travel,” including seniors.

Would cuts to these programs affect your library use? Please share with us below.

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