- Associated Press - Sunday, June 22, 2014

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (AP) - Bay St. Louis officials want to get out of the library business.

The city council voted unanimously this week to ask the Hancock County Board of Supervisors take over funding of the Bay St. Louis-Hancock County Library and Administrative Headquarters.

Councilman Joey Boudin told The Sun Herald (http://bit.ly/1kReeu1 ) the city is strapped for cash.

He said the council hopes the county will take over the library’s costs for 2015 and into the future.

Bay St. Louis contributes $308,000 annually to the library.

Library system Executive Director Courtney Thomas said the library was created by a joint agreement between the city and county with both to participate in funding.

The library system has five branches with the headquarters in Bay St. Louis the only location to provide full services. It has 33 employees.

Thomas said the county cut the library system’s funding by 2 percent last year, for a loss of about $45,000.

She said as a result of the cut, county libraries had to shorten hours of operation or lay off employees, and fewer new books have been purchased.

Boudin said if the county can’t handle the cost on its own, the council “will have to look and see how we can adjust some things.”

Thomas said the demand for services remains the same.

“We are just struggling to provide services the citizens need,” she said.

It takes more to fund a library these days — books are being digitally checked out on e-readers and the computers stay occupied.

“It’s not the library we knew growing up,” Thomas said.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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