Library Budget Cuts Could Effect Internet Access for Many

Library Budget Cuts Could Effect Internet Access for Many
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After withholding millions in appropriated funds over the past fiscal year, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon looks to cut state aid to public libraries.

In McDonald County, library officials are preparing to cut back, but are afraid how that might affect access to not only books.. But the internet.

One library patron, Fran, goes to the McDonald County Public Library almost daily.

She needs the free wifi.

“Job hunting. I check my email all the time, constantly. I have to stay in touch that way,” Fran said. “And I download my tax forms. All kinds of stuff.”

She’s not the only one.

In McDonald County, one of the state’s poorest counties, the library has it’s fair share of regulars who need access to high-speed internet.

“So many more people are coming in now that can’t afford high speed at home,” McDonald County Library Director Carrie Cline said. “And you need fiber now. You need these huge connections no matter where you’re at cause our patrons max it out every day.”

It’s one of many resources Cline is afraid will be effected by proposed cuts in state aid to libraries.

“[state funding] pays a huge chunk of our internet connectivity each month. Which the smaller you are, the more you need that. Cause that can be very pricey,” Cline said.

McDonald County faces a total loss of $30,000 dollars to it’s three libraries.

Cline fears the cuts could force the library to limit hours of operation and cause an inability to keep up with IT costs.

Something which Fern believes will disproportionately impact the state’s poor.

“I think it’s a tremendous concern,” Fern said. “If you take the internet away you’re just gonna make the situation a lot worse. It’s gonna exacerbate everybody’s issues. And it’s very difficult to get a job in this country. In this day and age, can’t do it without the internet.”

The Missouri House has passed legislation adding $3.1 million to a library grant program, but the governor still has the opportunity to veto it.