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LIBRARY TRUSTEES OFFER ASSURANCES ON PLAN

Library trustees Thursday tried to put the brakes on speculation about the recently-completed strategic plan for library services in Erie County.

They promised that everyone from suburban library boards to residents affected by possible closings and consolidations will have a say before anything is done.

"This is a document in progress," library board chairwoman Rebecca Mahoney said during the Buffalo and Erie Public Library trustees meeting.

An abridged version of the 600-page document may be distributed next week, Michael Mahaney, public relations director for the library, said. Copies of the entire plan are at the system's 53 branches.

"There's a lot of data in the plan," he said. "We wanted to make sure the copies to be examined by the public contained everything."

Rumors have circulated that 10 of the 15 libraries in the city will be closed. Ken Stone, deputy director for the county library system, said the report details that libraries closed or consolidated will be replaced with new facilities.

As an example, he said small libraries that are cramped and outdated would be closed in favor of perhaps a new 20,000-square-foot library to serve a larger area.

"We are talking about replacing libraries, building new libraries. But until a new library is ready, nothing will close . . .," Stone said.

Trustee Remy Orffeo said he wants to make sure consultants considered distances people have to travel to use library services, as well as local weather conditions.

"There 's a lot of geography between those branches. . . . I want to hear every devil's advocate position before I make up my mind," Orffeo said.

Ms. Mahoney said the board has yet to establish a timetable for the strategic plan. Nothing in the plan will affect the upcoming budget, she said, and residents in the affected communities will have a say.

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