After being closed for most of the month, a dozen libraries in four nearby counties should reopen soon. But they will be open for fewer hours because the “current financial constraints” which shut down the Pine Forest Regional Library system are far from over. And they provide a cautionary tale for libraries on the Coast.
The Pine Forest system covers Covington, Greene, Perry and Stone counties and includes libraries in the towns of Collins, Leakesville, Richton and Wiggins.
Sharman Smith, the executive director of the Mississippi Library Commission, acknowledges that less money from the state contributed to the closings. But, she noted, “State funding supplements local funding; it was never meant to supplant local support.”
There is also a responsibility on the part of librarians themselves to keep more of their supporters better informed of the challenges they face. Yet the Pine Forest Regional Library Web site is little more than a directory of libraries and their previous operating hours. And the Mississippi Library Commission Web site, while packed with library data, is a thin source of library news.
These Web sites are mentioned because librarians like to point out, as they should, that their facilities provide patrons with much more than novels and periodicals. For many households, the local library is still the sole source of Internet access.
Source: SunHerald in Gulfport and Biloxi, Mississippi.