Eugene's downtown library cuts some Sunday hours to help balance city budget

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      EUGENE, Ore. -- In June, the Eugene City Council approved a plan to cut hours at the downtown facility to balance a budget shortfall.

      Library loyalists in the groups Friends of the Eugene Public Library and The Eugene Public Library Foundation say the move hurts the community.

      "We've talked to about fifty people so far, who've come fully expecting to open the door," said Carol Hildebrand, a member of the Friends of the Eugene Public Library.

      City officials estimate they will save over $300,000 a year if they open the library at 1 p.m. instead of 10 a.m. each Sunday.

      "This is the first morning that the downtown library branch hours are shortened because of the effort to balance the city budget," said Monica Wilton, a spokesperson for the Eugene Public Library Foundation.

      "They're disappointed, and they are understandably frustrated in some cases," she continued.

      While the move may help the city in closing the $2.5 million budget gap, some residents say the reduced hours are costing the community much more.

      Kathy Rae Hill is handicapped, and says she depends heavily on library services.

      "Well I'm very disappointed because I have a lot to do today and I need the public library. To me, it's my life line," said Hill.

      Members of the Friends of the Eugene Public Library asked people to sign a petition urging city councilors to reconsider the decision. Many of those gathered outside the library Sunday morning said they are optimistic a library levy will be on the ballot in May to restore the hours.