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Youth Services Specialist Valerie White reads to children at the Canton Free Library.
Youth Services Specialist Valerie White reads to children at the Canton Free Library.

St. Lawrence County to eliminate library funding

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Library leaders in St. Lawrence County were scrambling Thursday after word got out that the tentative County budget completely cuts their funding. There are nineteen libraries in St. Lawrence County. Between them, they requested $105,000 from the county this year.

Lyn Swafford is director of the Canton Free Library. She says that's only about three percent of each library's budget. But every penny counts, so the library plans to lobby legislators next week.

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Julie Grant
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“We’re not going down without a fight," Swafford says. "A gentle fight. Just to say, we’re hearing we’re serving our patrons. We’re doing our best to keep up with technology, which isn’t cheap. We offer so many services that so many services do not and cannot. We’re open two evenings a week when other agencies are closed.”

Swafford says with the high unemployment rate in St. Lawrence County, many people rely on the libraries for job searches.

Everyone in the county has access to a library, but Swafford says not every town and villages pays to support them: "And that in the past has been one of our reasons for going to the county for funding, because everybody lives in the county, everybody has access to a library, and this way the county was helping to cover for the towns that do not have library service, do not have libraries in their towns."

The tentative County budget proposes a 20 percent tax increase. Legislators have been looking for ways to reduce that, including cuts to the Sheriff’s Department and the Highway Department.

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