State House Turns Page On Library Funding

Libraries across Texas are scrambling right now, working to deal with a budget shortfall. The State Legislature dealt a 64% cut to the State Library and Archives Commission. That cuts thousands of dollars from the budget in towns that need it the most.

Archer City has a long history with books. It is the home town for prolific author Larry McMurtry and the location of his expansive antiquarian book store Booked Up.  The town has been a backdrop for many literary endeavors. The Archer Public Library is evidence of the Texoma town's love of Literature."The community members are very well aware they are lucky to have a library of this caliber," said Library Director Cheryl Beesinger.

The romance with reading is written out well in the numbers: In a town of 1800, the Library loans out an average of around 500 books a week. Many others rely on the library for other services. "We have a lot of people come in that don't check out a book, that use the computers, to send a fax, to make copies. We don't have a Kinko's and the Library serves that purpose for the whole county, actually," said Beesinger.

With the cuts, there is a strain. "The small rural libraries are the ones that are in the most danger because we make do with very little in our budgets, and they took away that very little," said Beesinger. Nearly $3,000 of the APL budget is slashed with the cuts. That will impact the ability to purchase new releases and also affect the next generation of readers.

The Library brings in performers to draw children in the doors. Each show costs an average of $300. With the budget axed, they will have to slow down."The programs we do in the summer for the children… we will no longer have any of those funds," said Beesinger.

As the folks in Austin write a new chapter in the storied history Archer City has with books, Beesinger hopes they would consider earmarking more for the page-turners. "If they could reinstate some aid to the libraries that would really help," she said. Before the book is closed for good.

Paul Harrop, Newschannel 6