"We're disappointed with the decision, but we're hoping for the best. It's very scary when you start to think about what you'd have to cut," she said. "We've always had a good relationship with the board and the schools. Knock on wood."
But Mike Queen, president of the Harrison County Board of Education, said there's nothing to worry about.
"No school board likes to be told how to spend their money, and this has always been a unique situation, but we certainly understand the value our students and citizens get from the library. We have no interest in cutting funding at all," he said. "While we may not like being told what to do, we know we're reaping benefits from these community libraries.
"We're getting the bang for our buck," he said.
County school boards can still financially support their libraries. They're just no longer mandated by law to do so.
That's not enough to feel safe, said Dottie Thomas, director of the Ohio County Public Library.
"If you want a vital and stable public institution that serves the needs of all the citizens in its area -- for every age group -- you must have stable funding and it must be sufficient," said Thomas, who oversees the oldest public library in the state. "Without that, you can't plan for the future. You can't know from year to year what programs you can offer."
Libraries that are supported by excess levies are protected for now. When levy terms are up, school boards will have the option to include library services in the levy money.
"There is a possibility that our board of education could choose not to include us in its excess levy when it's time to vote again. But for now, we're safe, and I'm confident. We've always worked together," said Judy Rule, director of the Cabell County Public Library. "But make no mistake, this is bad news for the libraries in West Virginia. This will be devastating."
Amy Lilly, director of the Raleigh County Public Library, said she's one of the lucky ones because of her school board's support, but it's crucial for the state to realize libraries' role in public education. It's not just about taking a book off a shelf, she said.
"Everyone thinks that libraries are strictly about books and that books are going to go away overnight. But it's not about that. It's about teaching students how to research and how to find good, credible information," she said. "Our roles are going to constantly change over time, and good libraries realize that.
"If this were to happen to us, it would totally gut our system," she said. "We would have to shut our doors."Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.