CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Chris Maddison beamed as he showed off two ribbons his daughter Chloe brought home from school Monday. One ribbon was for improved grades and the second for making the honor roll.
Maddison, 32, and Chloe, an 8-year-old student at Central Elementary, visit the St. Albans Public Library every day after school to do homework, check out books and movies and surf the web.
"Daddy's really proud of you," he told her, as she whispered to him for help with a math problem.
But their daily routine could be in jeopardy as the Kanawha County Public Library struggles to find alternative funding sources after the state Supreme Court ruled last month that the Board of Education is no longer required to divert a portion of its budget each year for library services.
Up until Feb. 22, state law required the school board to provide funding to the library each year. The board's contributions made up about 40 percent of the library's annual budget.
Library officials say if the school board goes through with ceasing all funding at the end of the fiscal year June 30, they would have to close a minimum of six of the county's nine branches.
"That can't happen. I really hope they find a way," said Chris Maddison. "It's nice to bring her here, where it's quiet, away from home and the TV, so that she knows she needs to take time to focus on her schoolwork. We come here every single day."
While some school board members have voiced their support of voluntarily funding the library, no motion to help past the fiscal year has been made, and the board has thus far budgeted no money for the library for the 2013-14 school year.
"There are no good options here. They've given us 90 days to fill a void that equals $2.9 million," said Alan Engelbert, director of the Kanawha County Public Library. "There are going to be some very, very difficult decisions that are going to have to be made coming down the road very soon.
"All of our employees have dedicated great parts of their lives to providing the best service they can, and people really appreciate that and depend on it," he said.
St. Albans branch manager Melissa Burchett said the library branches' role in communities is an invaluable asset as important as the resources they offer patrons.
For instance, the St. Albans library regularly plays host to community organizations and PTO groups who use it as a meeting space, in addition to sponsoring educational events for all ages, including a "Born to Read" program tailored to children 36 months and younger.
"Here, it's very important to the community, and the community sees it that way. We have so many longtime patrons and regulars," Burchett said. "If we were to close, that would mean they'd have to travel somewhere else to get their books, and I'm not sure they'd be willing to.