LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Budget cuts could force the Lee County Library System into a new chapter with shorter hours, fewer employees, and a smaller selection.
All of this comes as a $20 million new library is set to open in downtown Fort Myers in October.
This Saturday is the last day for the current Fort Myers library. It will close in preparation for the new library's opening.
Library System director Sheldon Kaye says he had to cut $1.2 million from the upcoming budget. In order to do that, he says 10 of the system's 13 libraries will have shorter hours. They'll open later and close earlier. The six regional libraries will lose 6 hours a week, and 4 other libraries will cut 8 hours a week.
Kaye says the cuts are tough to make while they gear up for the new library opening. "Normally you can keep expenses pretty level from one year to the next but the operations at Fort Myers is going to be a little more expensive so that will be a challenge," he says.
Other budget cuts include four layoffs and eliminating the inter-library loan service, which allows users to get books from other libraries across the country.
Kaye says, "we'll be opening a little later and closing a litter earlier so people will need to plan their library trip carefully." He also says, "we'll be spending a little less on buying new materials so people may have to wait a bit longer for what they're looking for."
County commissioners will vote on the budget cuts in September. If passed, they would take effect in October.