The Town Council last month was considering cutting funding for the Pittsfield Public Library, but after pushback from residents the council this week instead gave preliminary approval to increasing funding by about $7,600. The library, seen earlier this month, is located at 110 Library St. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

PITTSFIELD — In a reversal, the Town Council this week gave preliminary approval to increasing funding for the Pittsfield Public Library.

Councilors are in the midst of reviewing the municipal budget for the purposes of adopting a new spending package by the end of the year, and last month they had considered cutting library funding and hours.

But after an outpouring of support for the library, the council on Wednesday gave tentative consent to boosting the library budget by nearly $7,600. The added money will allow the library to take a couple of steps, including remaining open for several more hours a week.

Library Director Holly Williams at the council’s budget workshop Wednesday presented several options for library funding. The first was to keep the funding flat and rearrange spending such that $1,000 for computers would be redirected toward acquiring more library materials.

The second option was to leave the money for computers in place and increase the materials budget by $1,650. Funding for materials has not risen in 20 years, Williams said, so that increase is to reflect that books and other library materials are roughly 11% more expensive now than two decades ago.

The final option was to increase the materials budget by $1,650 but also add about $6,000 to allow the library to be open for several more hours each week. Williams said she wasn’t sure when those additional hours would be, explaining that it might mean the library is open for an additional hour on some weekdays or perhaps longer hours on Saturday.


“I believe in the need in this town for that library and I believe in the need for the expanded hours,” Councilor Ron Jester said. “The families have spoken but I see it in my own family.”

The council ultimately chose the option with additional hours — although Pittsfield’s budget process means the council could still make changes before taking a final vote in December on the town’s overall spending plan.

The council also agreed to lower the general assistance budget from $15,000 to $10,000. Councilors had said at past meetings that they were frustrated by how large the budget is when the town has never spent the full amount. Several councilors Wednesday said they would like to see the budget lowered to $7,500, in part to even out the increased spending for the library.

But Town Manager Kathryn Ruth and fire Chief Bernard Williams said they are expecting more people to need assistance this year, particularly in light of inflation and rising utility costs.

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