Lapsing at the Library: Budget, Digital Force Claremont’s Fiske to Cut Magazines
Working in front of magazines that will not be renewed this year, Trina Menard, of Claremont, uses an Internet connection to do class work toward her masters in education at the Fiske Free Library in Claremont yesterday. (Valley News — James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Forty six magazines in the Fiske Free Library in Claremont display signs reading, "Due to budget cuts this periodical has been dropped." (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Fiske library patrons Carolee Palmer-Mann and her husband, Charlie, of Charlestown, talk with librarian Colin Sanborn, in Claremont yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Loyal Fiske Free Library patrons Carolee Palmer-Mann and her husband Charlie of Charlestown climb the steps to the Claremont library. The couple come from out of town to use the library because it has a greater selection than their home town library and because they have found the staff extremely helpful. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Claremont — The magazine covers at the Fiske Free Library are as varied as the topics on the pages inside, from politics and personal finance to gardening and cats.
But as of late, nearly all have one thing in common: a message to patrons that reads, “Due to budget cuts, this periodical has been dropped.”
The pink slips of paper have been inserted into the plastic covers of more than 40 magazines on the shelves in the reading room of the library. The most current issues of well-known magazines such as The New Yorker, Woman’s Day, Field and Stream, Money and National Geographic, and lesser known ones including Quilting, Cat Fancy, Vegetarian, Sunset and Handyman, will no longer be available as the subscriptions run out over the next several months.
Predictably, the reaction from patrons has not been favorable.
“We have had a fair amount of comment from people who hate to see them go,” Librarian Mike Grace said this week. “Some have asked if they can donate a magazine.”
While ending the subscriptions are in part due to pinched library budgets, changing reading habits and technology are also to blame. Library users are just as likely these days to be seen reading from a laptop, tablet or one of the library’s own desktop computers, where content is available in digital form, as they are to be seen with their noses in a book or magazine.
Grace said they reduced the periodical budget, which includes newspapers, from $3,000 a year to $1,000 beginning in 2012 as part of $40,000 in cutbacks needed to preserve a full-time staff position. Most of the savings were found by not filling two part-time positions, one of which became vacant through a retirement.
Not all the periodicals are going.
“We want to maintain the local ones such as Yankee Magazine and Upper Valley Life,” Grace said. “We are also keeping the newspapers.”
Kearsarge Magazine and New Hampshire To Do will also be spared.
“I think they are valuable,” said library patron Trina Menard when asked about the magazines. Menard was examining a pattern in Crochet that she is thinking of making for her daughter. “I think these budget cuts do hurt.”
During the budget discussions in late 2011, the city administration recommended eliminating one full-time position to save $60,000. But the council, on a recommendation from Grace, restored the position and savings were made in other areas.
Magazines are one of those few discretionary items in the budget, Grace said.
“Heat, phone, electricity. You can’t cut those so there are only a few places you can look for reductions.”
Subscriptions prices vary with some costing as little as $20 a year. Grace said some people have approached him about donating a subscription, which is how a few magazines and two newspapers are paid for now.
In Charlestown, Silsby Library Director Sandy Perron said they spend about $275 a year on 12 magazines and two newspapers, which is less than half of what was spent 10 years ago. While budgetary concerns were part of the reason for the reduction, so was demand.
“Not a lot of people were taking them out,” Perron said, explaining the reduction. “We have pared down to what generates the most interest. These include magazines on cats, horticulture and health.
“We try not to cut any we feel are important,” Perron added.
Perron said news magazines are not as popular today because people tend to get their news through more immediate sources such as the Internet.
Demand for library resources is also changing rapidly with more people downloading e-books and using available technology.
Over a couple hour period at Fiske yesterday, nearly everyone who entered the reading area chose a daily newspaper over a magazine and on the other side of the library the five computer terminals were occupied.
In Lebanon, Library Director Sean Fleming said they spend $5,000 annually for magazines and newspapers at the Lebanon Library and the Kilton Library.
“We have more space and we are seeing more demand,” said Fleming, referring to opening of Kilton a couple of years ago. “We did pump it up some.”
In the coming months, Grace said they will review the magazine list and may be able to renew some subscriptions if the demand is there.
Unlike books, Grace said you can’t measure how often people use magazines.
“You really don’t notice people using them until they are gone.”
Patrick O’Grady can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.