Library officials also plan to "immediately solicit" the County Commission and the city -- the remaining two primary sources of the library's funding -- to increase their annual contributions. But Mayor Danny Jones told the Gazette Monday he has no intention of upping the funding.
Other suggestions include creating a plan to close facilities based on use, cost to operate and location, as well as reducing hours of service at some or all libraries, starting with the immediate discontinuation of Sunday openings.
A plan to "terminate or furlough the lowest possible number of existing employees" over the next six months will also be considered, as well as across-the-board cuts to salaries. More than 60 percent of the library's budget is made up of personnel costs, Albert said.
"If we were to hit the full requirement to fund the deficit out of our current revenue, we would be talking about as high as a third of our current employees," he said. "This loss of funding isn't just an inconvenience. Our budget covers the purchase of materials like computers, events like the West Virginia Book Festival and summer reading programs, but most of all, the budget is principally personnel. We provide the knowledge and help of librarians."
Since 2002, library officials have been raising money to build a new $37 million main branch, but those plans are also being halted.
"We're going to put the proposal in limbo. We're not abandoning it, we're not saying we're never going to do it, we're just saying right now, it just cannot be done," Albert said.
The library board also plans to work with the West Virginia Library Commission, the West Virginia Library Association and other affected public libraries to achieve "a permanent, statewide solution."
The library will be able to operate using reserve funds for up to six months to smooth the transition, Albert said, but plans for the future need to be implemented as soon as possible.
"We have been operating for several years with one eye on the budget and one on the ongoing litigation with the Board of Education. So, we've been watching our money," he said. "But, it would be imprudent to continue business as usual. It's been a tough couple of days, and it isn't going to get any better for a while but we're going to do what we can to get through this in the most reasonable and cautious, least disruptive way we can.
"But, I don't want to undersell just the sheer impact of a 40 percent loss."
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.