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Lacking county funds, library will be forced to close Dec. 16

The Depew Library will close its doors Dec. 16.

It is the latest branch to set a closing date, after the Buffalo & Erie County Library Board decided to cut the county system from 52 libraries to 36.

The branch, at 321 Columbia Ave., was among the 16 county libraries targeted and will no longer receive Erie County funding. Without the funding, it simply could not survive.

"The reality is, we had to do it," said Albert E. Martin, vice president of the Lancaster Library Board.

While the board funds the system through a county library tax, individual library boards, such as Lancaster's, make the final decision to close a branch based on inadequate funding.

The Lancaster Library Board voted this week to shut down the Depew branch by the end of the year, after efforts to save it were unsuccessful, Martin said.

There was talk of using town and village tax dollars to help keep the Depew branch open, but the communities would have had to come up with an additional $300,000, said Town Supervisor Robert H. Giza.

"I can't give them $300,000 every year," Giza said. "I think it's a very hard thing for them to do, but they've come to the realization they have to do it."

The Lancaster Library, at 5466 Broadway, will remain open. In fact, Lancaster Library trustees also considered keeping the Depew branch open by splitting the county money that Lancaster still will receive to operate the Broadway branch.

But service and hours of operation at both branches would have incurred severe cutbacks, Martin said.

With the Depew branch closing, some of its collection, shelving and equipment will be transferred to the Lancaster branch.

"We figured it's in the best interest of the community to concentrate our efforts at Lancaster and provide a full-service library," Martin said.

Still, the transition from two town libraries to one is going to be challenging, Martin said.

"We held a lot of programs at Depew because it had a good parking situation," he said. "Lancaster is a bigger building but has insufficient parking. It's a problem the town is going to have to face."

In addition, two full-time library positions are being cut, while hours for part-time staff are being chopped by more than half.

"We've got our work cut out for us trying to raise some outside funds," Martin said. "With staff cutbacks, we don't have all the people we need to run children's programs."

e-mail: jrey@buffnews.com

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