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Claremont library patrons feel budget pinch

Union Leader Correspondent

January 18. 2013 12:09AM

CLAREMONT - Cuts to the 2012 library budget are becoming more apparent to the public as 2013 gets underway.

A smaller budget led Library Director Michael Grace to make several cutbacks at the Fiske Free Library last year to personnel and purchases. He trimmed the library's approximately 60 periodical subscriptions down to about 20. Many of the subscriptions expired Jan. 1, to the dismay of some library users, Grace said.

"People are noticing. We've had a number of people lamenting the loss of them and we've had people showing interest in gift subscriptions or paying for gift subscriptions for us, which is a nice thing for us."

"It was because of reductions in the 2012-year budget, which is a calendar-year budget," he said. "Because magazine subscriptions tend to be a year or more, we didn't see magazine subscriptions running out 'til 2013."

This year, the city started an 18-month budget as part of its transition from a calendar-year budget to a fiscal-year budget, which runs from July to June. For the next year and a half, the periodical subscriptions will stay down, Grace said.

"For at least the next year and half we're still at that same reduced level for magazines," he said. "We're starting to go through to see how much money we have and how much are going to periodicals."

Staying on the Fiske periodical rack are local magazines such as Yankee Magazine, Upper Valley Life, New Hampshire Magazine and New Hampshire To Do, local newspapers including the Union Leader and consumer reports and news magazines.

Grace is also looking to local interest as a guide for how to proceed.

"I know we have a lot of people that are interested in knitting and craft magazines," he said. "We're still feeling out what we are going to be able to provide."

Grace said the cuts to periodicals are a small piece of a bigger picture.

"It wasn't just magazine cuts," he said.

But because magazine readership is down nationally and because some magazines are going digital as online magazines, fewer magazines could become a trend at the Fiske depending on future budgets and public interest.

"Every library sort of does everything a little differently," he said. "My feeling is my readership for magazines has been declining for the last few years."

Grace said he would like to see funding levels return for a more robust periodical selection at the Fiske. "We're always hopeful."

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