PORTLAND — Portland Public Library officials plan to maintain all of their branches and hours with a small increase in city funding, while nervously waiting to see whether federal funding will continue.

During a public meeting at the library Tuesday, director Stephen Podgajny said the library system is asking for an increase of slightly more than $100,000 in city funding, in a budget of $3,984,737 for the year that begins July 1.

The proposed budget, up 3.2 percent from this year’s, calls for maintaining the four remaining branch libraries. The Reiche and Munjoy Hill branches were closed last year because of budget cuts.

Podgajny said budget includes $184,000 from the state — actually a mix of state money and federal funds that will be routed through the state — which is the same as this year. But he noted that the federal money is far from ensured because budget cuts are still being negotiated in Washington, D.C.

The budget proposal is likely to be appreciated by the City Council, said one member who attended Tuesday’s meeting.

“The council is looking for sustainability,” said Councilor Dory Waxman. “We want to keep these four (branches) in place for the long term.”

The Riverton branch was considered for closure last year, but the council added money to the library budget to keep it open.

Podgajny said the library system has adjusted to doing more with less.

He said two measures of efficiency — visits per employee and lent items per employee — have shot up in the past year as overall use of the libraries has held steady despite the two branch closings.

He said that he hopes more volunteers will help the library maintain services, and that he would like to install bar-code reading machines to enable library patrons to check out materials on their own. The machines, however, cost about $50,000 each and are out of reach in the current budget environment.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:
[email protected]