All Over The US Public Library Budgets Are Being Slashed

In the new budget, the law library’s budget went from $95,000-plus to less than $4,000. We see one or two stories like this per week now. How this must be affecting the bottom line of the big publishers is hard to quantify from a distance but we’d suggest it’s a ticking time bomb and a lot of people will be out of work by the end of 2018 if the majors have look at ways of saving money. Of course the more serious discussion is that now the legal profession, the courts and the general public will not have access to the same materials as they did before which can only damage the legal system. Of course they are noticeably silent at the DOJ

Worse to come we fear.


It’s looking like the Court Library — known by most as the law library — is a victim of the county’s tough budget year. Cumberland County commissioners approved the budget Monday.

The law library is located on the third floor of the courthouse on Dick Street. It’s small. It draws a mix of lawyers, courthouse staff and regular folks who want to access its rows of legal volumes. It was incorporated into the county library system in 1974.

In the new budget, the law library’s budget went from $95,000-plus to less than $4,000.

I figured the library would close come start of fiscal year in July, but county spokeswoman Sally Shutt says: “It will be restructured, not closed. We are exploring how to provide access to the information and materials in more cost-effective ways, such as opportunities through technology.”

She says there will no longer be paid staff, but says: “It is our goal to have the doors open on July 3. We are not sure what the restructuring will look like. Different options are being explored.”

Jody Risacher, director of the library system, does believe there are ways to keep the law library services available to people. She says there are “all kinds of models” the library can look at and expressed confidence her team can find the right one.

“We do have space at Headquarters for at least some of the materials,” she said,” referring to the main library, which also houses administrative offices.

She said years ago, Headquarters was able to absorb materials when the law library was made smaller — a wall was moved — to accommodate growth in the Clerk of Court’s office next door.

“I’m sorry for the loss of any facility that is open to the people and meets their needs,” Risacher says.

But she says she’s a taxpayer, too, and appreciates the seriousness of the revenue shortfall.

“I understand things have to go,” she says.

On Monday, I checked out the law library around 11 a.m. It affords a great high-up view of downtown. A patron was seated at each of three tables; another person was making copies. The stacks included volumes with titles such as “North Carolina Court of Appeals Reports.”

Later, a group came in and the librarian set them up on one of the computers.

Lawyer Caroline Gregory, who was in the library, says she looks up most of her cases online, but says some older lawyers, “use the law library constantly.”

She says the partners in her own firm prefer the books, which some law offices own. But the law library is great for lawyers in the middle of a case who can dash over to look up information, she says.

She says some information from the law books are free online, while a good part of it is available only through pricey pay services. Closing the law library could hurt people with no lawyer, who do their own legal legwork, she says.

In her view, the law library is a “well-used resource.”

“There’s no replacement.”