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Orange libraries restore Saturday hours

ORANGE — Saturday hours at the libraries are back. With more stable town funding this year, trustees were able to restore full hours at the town’s two libraries, and even pick up where they left off planning for future expansion.

Library Director Walt Owens said funding for the library this year comes just in time to keep pace with the increased demand for services.

According to Owens, circulation of books, DVDs and other materials increased by nearly 10 percent last year, “And that’s with reduced hours,” he said. He believes the libraries may be even more heavily used now that Saturday hours have been restored.

He added that with the increase in circulation of books and materials, the library is an even better return on taxpayers’ investment. For every dollar the libraries received from the town in FY12, patrons got $5 of services. The previous year, the libraries provided $4 in services for every dollar from the town, “which is still a very good return on investment,” Owens said.

Last year, town officials made deep cuts to town departments to balance a budget over half a million dollars in the red. The library was cut by 24 percent, forcing trustees to close the library on Saturday and use the trust fund to cover operating costs, such as heating oil. The trust fund, consisting of donations made over the past 100 years for expanding library collections and building space, shrank.

But now that the library budget has been funded to meet state certification requirements at $295,000, trustees are discussing long range plans that will use the trust funds for their intended purpose. Future plans include a possible building project in the next three to five years to make the library more accessible and provide much-needed space for collections, programs and services.

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