CLEVELAND — In its effort to address a projected $5 million budget shortfall during the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Cuyahoga County Public Library's board of trustees has announced a cost reduction plan that includes the layoff and furlough of staff members.
The library says its plan, which is laid out in phases, includes the layoff and furlough of more than 300 staff members. Remaining employees (union and management) will work a significantly reduced schedule.
As part of this reduction, the library has applied for a layoff avoidance program called SharedWork Ohio, which would enable staff to continue to work at reduced hours and receive unemployment benefits based on state eligibility requirements. These salary reductions are estimated to save the Library system $1.875 million.
“Like everyone else, Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL) is experiencing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We must make incredibly difficult decisions to reduce our operating costs, but these steps are essential to the long-term sustainability of our Library system,” said Tracy Strobel, CCPL executive director in a statement. “When we emerge from this phase of the pandemic response the Library needs to be here for the community to help job seekers, students seeking Internet access and residents who need accurate, reliable information.”
In addition to the staff reductions, the library says it plans to eliminate or postpone several planned maintenance projects, reduce its materials budget and decrease other general expenditures. While its branches are closed, the library will also achieve savings related to daily building expenses (cleaning, trash removal, etc.). In total, these cost-saving measures equal more than $5 million.
All CCPL branches have been closed since March 14. The library has already transitioned many of its regular in-branch services to virtual service, including online reference, tech support and reading recommendations. CCPL's digital collection is available at www.cuyahogalibrary.org/digital, where cardholders can access eBooks, eAudiobooks, streaming movies, music and online learning tools, like Tutor.com, Lynda.com and more.
Those without a library card can apply online and immediately access the digital collection.