PROVO — The city library is feeling the effects of economic downturn as it faces the scariest budget library officials have seen in recent years.

Library director Gene Nelson said the 2008 draft budget for the public library at 550 N. University Avenue, and it's not looking pretty.

Last year, Provo City Library had a budget of $3.7 million, but the 2008 draft budget estimates they'll only have $3.6 million to spend. That's a percent change of less than 3 percent, but Nelson said their expenditures are increasing while revenue is decreasing.

"This is one of the roughest budgets we've ever had to deal with," he said.

Nelson emphasized it is only a draft budget. It may undergo some alterations before Mayor Lewis Billings and City Council members approve it later this spring.

Most of the library's preliminary revenue comes from property taxes, meeting room rentals and late-book fees, Nelson said. While those revenue sources are slightly down, expenditures such as health insurance for full-time employees have increased 25 percent. As a result, library officials need to cinch their belts.

"It's just like everyone else's budget," he said. "If you bring home a smaller paycheck, you have to make some adjustments."

Library officials aren't talking about laying off any of the 79 staff members, Nelson said, they're just looking at shaving off hours for part-timers, cutting down on magazine or special events.

"This is just one of those years where we have to bite our tongue and bite the bullet and just move on," he said.

Nelson said libraries across the nation have been feeling the pinch for years. The Pheonix Public Library had to cut its staff in half for budgetary reasons.

"This is not a new trend," he said.

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