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State Cuts Would Crimp Wilton Library Users

State libraries will no longer be good sharers if proposed budget cuts abolish state programs that effectively make Connecticut one big reading room.

If the cuts occur, Wilton Library patrons will not be able to order books from or drop off books to libraries in other towns, said Cathy Steele, Wilton's interlibrary loan manager.

Connecticard and Connecticar , state-funded programs that enable libraries to make interlibrary loans and deliver shared materials to a borrower's nearest library, would be effectively eliminated under Malloy's budget.

Wilton Library receives interlibrary services daily. "It will definitely have an impact if they gut the program," said Steele. "We haven't always had delivery service daily. So if they have to cutback we would deal. If they gut the whole thing, it would be a big issue."

These programs enable libraries to exchange materials without paying for postage, said Steele. Wilton Library would not be able to pay postage costs on its own, she said.

"If people dropped off books here from other libraries we would have to call them and tell them to come back and get the books," said Steele. Steele also said that Wilton Library would have to ask patrons to pay for postage if they wanted to order a book from another library.

The proposed cuts are before the legislature's Appropriations Committee. The State Library Administration has proposed alternative reductions that would allow the Danbury Library and other local and academic libraries to continue the interlibrary loan program. For Connecticar and Connecticard not to disappear, the Appropriation Committee must accept this alternative proposal.

Under these programs, any resident of Connecticut has access to 16 million items, 88 percent of which are books. About 300,000 residents borrowed more than 4.9 million items through the programs in 2010. The 4.9 million items loaned to residents of other towns represent a value of more than $73 million.

If Wilton Library patrons do not want to see these programs or other library programs cut, Steele asks residents to contact state legislators and the Appropriations Committee.

How have these programs been beneficial to you? Leave your comments below.

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