PCB Public Library could be closing an extra day to save money

Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 6:51 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Running a city isn’t easy and it isn’t cheap. Panama City Beach leaders have been combing through next year’s proposed budget plans, figuring out what needs a little extra funding and what things could do with a little less money. It seems they’re taking the Panama City Beach Public Library on Hutchison Blvd. into consideration for some cuts.

As of right now, the library is open to the public Monday through Saturday. But the city is looking to cut down on funding by about $15,000 in next year’s budget, which is why they’re considering closing the doors one more day a week.

Library cardholder Maria Elisa Ramirez knows where to go when her kids have questions, and she’s looking for answers.

“When my five-year-old comes with those questions that only a five-year-old can ask,” Ramirez said. “She was very interested about clouds. I ask one of the ladies, we want to learn about clouds because we don’t have all the knowledge. So they point us in the right direction for her age and reading a book that talks about how clouds are made and I think that’s fantastic.”

The library is a hub for knowledge and services that not everyone has at home.

“It’s a place where students and underprivileged people can have access to the same research materials and research materials as anybody else,” library cardholder Jack Smith said.

But keeping the doors open and materials accessible isn’t free. According to Debbie Ingram, Communications Director for the city of Panama City Beach, the city gives roughly $200,000 each year towards funding the library. This year, the library asked for an increase, bringing it to $222,000.

At the recent budget meeting, the councilman looked at different ways across the board to make cuts. The city is looking at shifting the days of operation from six days a week to five, which would save money but has also left some cardholders disappointed.

“We all put up with the tourists and the inconvenience because it’s all a revenue generator and some of that revenue needs to go back locally and this is about as local as it can get. A local library,” Smith said. “So yeah, taking a day away from it I think that’s the worst idea I’ve heard.”

Officials said they’d stay open Saturday no matter what so that those who work can still have a day to come. But for some, the library and work go hand in hand.

“It would cut back in the access as far as internet, as far as printing, the printed word,” library cardholder Jim Osborne said.

But no cutbacks are finalized yet. As for what day they are considering shutting down, that still hasn’t been decided.

City officials said they’re also looking at other private entities to help fund the library, and have even considered starting a foundation for it.

City leaders will be approving the budget plans at the next city council meeting on September 8th.

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