Attorneys for the library had warned legislators that the loss of funding from the school board would cause a "striking blow to the state due to the sheer size of the population this library directly serves," according to the opinion.
"It's sad. We have generally been a tremendous assist to the Board of Education in a number of ways, and we can demonstrate that, but that's not the thrust of this opinion. It turned on the statute," Albert said. "We knew the funding was at risk, and we have been doing what we can to be conscious of that in making decisions. Everything we've done has been viewed from that spectrum.
"Now we have to sit down and decide what this means to us and what approach we can take going forward with current operations and building funds."
The library has been working on plans to build a new building since 2002, and launched a campaign to raise $37 million for the additional branch. Since the campaign launched in 2006, the library has raised $18.4 million, mostly from private donations.
The Board of Education has been facing financial hardships of its own. Board members recently projected a $4.5 million deficit for the 2014 budget.
"This changes the whole picture," said board president Pete Thaw. "No longer does the library board have a parasitic relationship with us."
Thaw said the $3 million the board usually divvies out for the library each year will be put toward bettering the county's public schools.
"It will now be going back into the classrooms and into education -- not to pay salaries at the library," Thaw said. "They've been doing this to us for 56 years, and it's finally over."
Justices voted 4-1 to uphold Zakaib's decision. Justice Margaret Workman wrote the opinion, and was joined by Menis Ketchum, Allen Loughry and Robin Jean Davis. Chief Justice Brent Benjamin dissented.
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.