The Faulkner County Library halted ebook purchases on its Overdrive service until next year after the Arkansas Legislature reduced state aid to public libraries.
“[Overdrive] is where all of our growth is right now,” Library Director John McGraw said. “That’s where we’d love to put our money.”
Instead, the library will offer patrons access to Hoopla, a digital media service that includes movies, TV shows and music in addition to books.
“Due to financial constraints from reductions to Arkansas’ state aid to public libraries, we will not be able to purchase any more ebooks on our Overdrive service until January 1st, 2018 when we will have additional funds again,” library officials said in a statement.
McGraw said the library’s cost for the service was lower than expected, allowing it to unlock some of the more expensive tiers of content for people to use.
“Right now we are spending far less [on Hoopla] than expected,” he said, noting that the music and audio books have been most popular locally. “It’s going really good. It’s a great service.”
The library is funded through a one-mill county tax and state funding. The library received nearly $1.79 million from the mill in 2016 but is only projected to receive a little more than $1.72 million this year.
McGraw said a big part of the problem with state funding, other than it being reduced, is the timing.
“There’s a lag effect,” he said because lawmakers often announce the cuts after the library has already submitted its budget for the year.
“How do we get legislators to realize that libraries have to know how much money they have to spend well in advance of when they go into budget in the spring?” he asked. “How do I plan what the legislature is going to do in May right now? I’m planning for the worst and hoping for the best.
“We plan our calendar January to December. We weren’t prepared for [the cuts]. Libraries in Arkansas need more money; not less or even the same amount of money.”
For more information on Hoopla or other library services, visit fcl.org.