Demonstrating how important A.K. Smiley Public Library is to Redlands, dozens of members of the community pledged their own financial resources to save the Library from the most severe budget cuts in its 126-year history, raising $193,000 in two weeks.
“What an amazing testament to the people of our community who, rather than see drastic cuts in our Library’s hours and services, dug into their own pockets to keep it open” remarked Library Trustee Rosa Gomez. The gifts from the community, in concert with the entirety of the Library’s $126,000 reserve fund, make up the 2020 COVID-19 Emergency Fund needed to avoid many of the projected layoffs, if only for one year. “Fortunately the Library Board was able to cobble together additional reserve funds to contribute, but the challenge when you use one-time funds for recurring needs is that once they’re spent, they’re spent. We won’t be able to do this again next year,” Gomez continued.
“The Library hadn’t completely recovered from the cuts of the Great Recession, so the sudden 20% reduction from the City meant the loss of 16 positions and the elimination of 21 hours of service to the public,” commented Library Director Don McCue. “While this doesn’t fix everything for the upcoming year, it is a great help, allowing the Library to be open 48 hours a week instead of only thirty-five.”
“We’re confident that, as the City budget picture hopefully improves, the City Council will reaffirm its commitment to the Library by resuming the funding needed to preserve these important programs,” said Bill Hatfield, President of the Library’s Board of Trustees. “The Library is part of the soul of this community. When Albert Smiley gave the Library and park to the City of Redlands in 1898, it was with the expectation that it would be ‘faithfully and liberally sustained’ by the City. We, with the City Council, must continue to honor his vision and gift.”