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LONGTIME LIBRARIAN IS APPOINTED DIRECTOR

A librarian who worked his way up within the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library over the past 29 years will take the helm of the sprawling library system come Jan. 1, when the current library director retires.

The selection of Michael C. Mahaney as the new director came Thursday, the same day that the county Library Board voted approval to a drastic increase in overdue fines as a way to raise extra revenue.

Mahaney, 50, of Elma, was named to a three-year term as library director by a unanimous vote of the Library Board. He will earn $97,500 next year.

"My heart is here, my roots are here, my family is here, and my friends are here. I'm thrilled that I will be able to spend the rest of my career here," said Mahaney. Most recently, he has served as deputy director and chief operating officer of the system.

During the past year, the Library Board conducted a national search to fill the director's spot, starting with a field of 12 candidates that was eventually whittled to two. Mahaney was the unanimous choice, said Diane Chrisman, who led the system for the past two years.

"Michael has been an outstanding member of the administrative team," she said.

Library Board members also voted unanimously to increase overdue fines for all 52 libraries in the system for the first time since 1983.

The increase is necessary because of a budget gap projected for the system in 2003, which Erie County officials were not willing to fill. Library officials first proposed to increase fines slightly and cut back on hours and Sunday service at some branches, but scrapped that plan in favor of stiffer fine increases and no cutbacks to library hours and services.

"It's the responsible thing for us to do," said Trustee John B. Long. "We have to keep libraries open and keep servicing people in this county."

Under the adopted increase, library fines will more than double in some cases. The new fine schedule includes:

Fines of 25 cents a day for overdue books checked out by adults, up from 10 cents a day.

Fines of 10 cents a day for overdue children's books, up from 2 cents a day.

Fines of $2 a day for overdue videos and DVDs, up from the current fine of $1 a day.

Maximum fines of $15, instead of the current $10 cap on overdue fines.

Kenneth H. Stone, the library's chief financial officer, said estimates show that the library could bring in $601,000 more next year under the new fine schedule, over and above the roughly $800,000 that is currently generated by fines throughout the system.

Stone added that the library will monitor the fine revenues on a monthly basis, to make sure that revenues from the increased fines meet expectations.

The fear? Some board members said they expect people to hurry back to the libraries with their overdue books, to avoid paying the heftier fines.

e-mail: cvogel@buffnews.com

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