Our View: Problems With Library’s Reasons For Cutting Out North Escambia

September 27, 2012

The West Florida Library announced that hours are being cut at library branches across the county — most dramatically in North Escambia.

Part of the cuts will essentially reduce the Century Branch Library to a part-time library sharing employees and resources with the new Molino Library. The Molino Library will open next month, robbing Peter to pay Paul with staff from Century. The Molino Library will be full of used furniture, taken from the Main Branch which is being replaced with a new building and new furniture, perhaps a wise reuse of taxpayer property. Most of the books on the Molino Library shelves will be duplicates from other branches, donations from citizens and books culled away from an upcoming Friends of the Library book sale. The phrase about a red headed stepchild comes to mind.

In tough budget times, sacrifices are necessary. But wait…the library has increased expenses almost 12 percent in a year. According to Escambia County Administrator Randy Oliver, the county has eliminated about 150 positions and cut expenses by 8.6 percent from 2012 and almost 16 percent since 2009. But not the library.

Escambia County contributes about 70 percent of the library’s funding, while the City of Pensacola kicks in the rest. The county, however, has no say in how their millions are spent by the library. So who gets the shaft from the library? The unincorporated areas of North Escambia.

But the library’s management had reasoning why Molino and Century were cut. But fact checking the reason given to the Escambia County Commission Tuesday night finds the reasoning has more holes than a good Swiss cheese.

“But since Century and Molino are not so far apart from each other, we had to reduce Century’s hours in order to open Molino’s hours. So that the staff that works at Century would pick up their hours at the Molino Library when that opened,”  Darlene Howell, acting library administrator told the commission.

Libraries are a great place to do a little research before making such a statement before the board that provides 70 percent of your funding.

The library locations in Century and Molino are not “not so far apart from each other”.  From Google maps, we found these distances between library branches. For the Century to Molino distance, we double checked that we had the most direct route, and did not even include any dirt roads.

  • Century Branch to Molino Branch — 19.7 miles
  • Main Library to Tyron Branch  — 6.2 miles
  • Main Library to Southwest Branch — 14.5 miles
  • Main Library to Westside Branch — 1.3 miles
  • Tryon Branch to Westside Branch — 7.1 miles
  • Tryon Branch to Southwest — 21.2 miles

Looks like several of the libraries are even more “not so far apart from each other”.  Don’t take us wrong…this is not a call to shutdown the very valuable Southwest and Tryon branches. They are a reasonable distance from the main library and serve very important roles in their communities.  And, from our experiences, the Tryon Branch is a library and employees in which to take pride.

But while we are talking “not so far apart from each other” — what’s the deal with the Westside Library? Which politician’s pet project what this? If it is as necessary as library management says to cut hours and “share resources”, why is there a branch that is currently operating 60 hours per week (compared to a current 40 hours in Century) just 1.3 miles from the full-featured Main Library? Why are we not sharing resources or closing the Westside Branch just 1.3 miles away rather than Century and Molino at 19.7 miles away?

The Westside Library, if something must be cut, is just a short ECAT bus ride away from the Main Library, or a quick 2-3 minute trip by car. We fail to see how that would be as inconvenient as 19.7 miles — about 40-45 minutes and a couple of expensive gallons of gas round trip.

Westside will see hours of operation cut to 44, while Century will be cut to 24 hours per week. Still not seeing the fairness factor.

Oh wait…the Westside Branch is in the City of Pensacola. And Century…well, Century is just that place where the high school was closed, the middle and elementary schools were closed, the tax collector’s office was closed, the health department was closed….hmm, it’s just the Century Branch Library. And I bet those people in Molino won’t notice if we shaft them either…just a bunch of country folks that probably won’t use the library anyway.

The West Florida Library needs to take notice that North Escambia residents are taxpayers too. The West Florida Library need to take notice that 70 percent of their funding is from Escambia County, and note that the Century and Molino communities are part of Escambia County.

If Escambia County is going to fund 70 percent of the library system budget, Escambia County needs a 70 percent say in how the system is operated.

For an earlier story about the library cutbacks, click here.

Comments

36 Responses to “Our View: Problems With Library’s Reasons For Cutting Out North Escambia”

  1. Jane C on March 17th, 2017 2:06 pm

    I’m so glad there are branch libraries in the north end of Escambia County. I grew up and lived part of my adult in Cantonment. So, I was always went to the Main Library or one of the other branches. Kudos to anyone responsible for this effort.

  2. abc on November 28th, 2012 11:44 am

    Well of course we are the black sheep of the “Escambia” county family, dont you know they want us to be annexed into the city, Heaven forbid, and if we fell into that trap we would be absolutely be worse off than we are today, we have always had all they could dump on us (sewer plant, lousy air, and a dream of a nuculer electric plant to boot, and the least provisions made for our roads ,health, etc.

    Succession???? sounds like an avenue we should investigate….

  3. Friction against the machine on September 27th, 2012 6:13 pm

    North Escambia should secede from the rest of the county.

  4. Marian Mobley on September 27th, 2012 5:53 pm

    You know what they really think of the Northend when the only thing we are good for is to run the pipe line from old stinky from downtown to the northend. We didn’t even have to ask for it.

  5. NORTHESCAMBIA RESIDENT on September 27th, 2012 3:58 pm

    AMEN WILLIAM! VERY WELL SAID.

  6. MolinoLady on September 27th, 2012 2:47 pm

    Just a bit of more info, when asked by a commissioner if adding the money for the 5% cut back in for the library would go to the unincorporated area the answer was no.

  7. Mrs. Bloodsworth on September 27th, 2012 2:39 pm

    My common sense solution to keep Century Branch operating 5 days, 40 hours a week:

    1) Main Library- Closed Sunday and Monday (*If anyone in that area wants to visit a library on Mondays, they can travel 1.3 miles to the Westside Branch or 6.2 miles to the Tyron Branch)

    2) Adjust the library hours at the Main Library on Thursdays from 10-8pm to 10-6pm.

    3) Westside Branch Library- Closed on Sundays and Mondays. (*If anyone in that area wants to visit a library on Mondays, they can travel 7.1 miles to the Tryon Branch which is open on Mondays)

    4) Do a study to find out if the cost and expenses associated with the WFPL bookmobile versus the number of patrons visiting it is worth keeping it going at this point. This would be my last resort at saving money, but it should be an viable option to consider.

    Summary: If the reason the library director who advised the county commission that Century and Molino would share resources because they “are not so far apart from each other” is her main objective to saving money, then I see no reason whatsoever why this cannot apply to my common sense solution above.
    The distance between the Molino Branch and the Century Branch is 19.7 miles, which is a whole heck of lot further than the 1.3, 6.2 and 7.1 miles that Pensacola residents would have to travel to enjoy their libraries 5-6 days a week.

  8. lawson on September 27th, 2012 1:43 pm

    Maybe we should picket the library main office.

  9. Armymajorswife on September 27th, 2012 1:31 pm

    Thank you again William for you clarification, as some people are just not comprehending what they are reading I assume.

  10. William on September 27th, 2012 1:17 pm

    >>>What is the relevance of the distance between branches?

    Ask the library director. She told the county commission that Century and Molino would share resources because they “are not so far apart from each other”. It was her reasoning provided to the five men and women that vote on the funding for her paycheck. It’s that reasoning that we took great issue with.

  11. Bob on September 27th, 2012 12:54 pm

    What is the relevance of the distance between branches? Those that are closer together also are serving more people. That’s the problem with the country these days. Everyone thinks they have to have the same thing everyone else is getting. Equality gone bezerk. Now hear this. The country is going broke. We can’t afford this stuff anymore. Get your books online for Christ’s sake.

  12. CONCERNED ABOUT LABRARIES on September 27th, 2012 12:14 pm

    WAY TO GO WILLIAM!!!

  13. Mrs. Bloodsworth on September 27th, 2012 11:36 am

    West Florida Library, Members of our Governor’s Office, Rep. Jeff Miller, County Commissioners and Council Members:

    It is with great disappointment in the decisions that were made by the West Florida Library Management that I write this letter in hopes of voicing my opinions and frustrations with the decisions that were made. I am requesting that this matter be re-evaluated once more and a more suitable and fairer solution for all libraries as a whole be found.

    William @ Northescambia.com could not have presented a more accurate argument on behalf of all the tax paying citizens in the northern half of Escambia County, Florida than what is stated in this article above. His editorial hit the nail right on the head when stating facts about the hours of operations per library and the distance factor versus the reason they gave for their final decision. I’m pretty sure you could get a group of local High School students together that could make more rational, logical and fairer decisions with common sense than the West Florida Library Management seem to make these days.

    We the people are not happy, nor will we just lie down and play dead with this decision. The citizens up in the northern half of the Escambia County, Florida area are not moochers or dead beats. We contribute and volunteer in our communities, we work hard at our jobs, we pay our required taxes and we are good citizens who deserve the same rights and privileges at those who live in Pensacola.

    We request that you please use your voices and contact the West Florida Library Management and encourage them to re-evaluated their decision and make adjustments that are more practical and fair for all who enjoy and benefit from the library services, staff and facility. Thank you

  14. Armymajorswife on September 27th, 2012 11:33 am

    Thanks Trish. My mom, Nadine, taught me well and she was the Queen of a lot of things, in my eyes anyway. ;^)

  15. Trish on September 27th, 2012 11:26 am

    To Armymajorswife:

    Before now I thought I was the queen of sarcasium…..

    To eeyore:
    Really????? You would rather not pay taxes for schools or libraries? I would think that you at some point went to a school and library and learned to read. What if those people back whenever did not want to pay to educate citizens? Where would you be now?????

  16. Armymajorswife on September 27th, 2012 10:52 am

    Really *eeyore* , for not complaining you sound very bitter, seriously. As far as what they contribute…. Escambia county as a whole is not a rich county. There are no real exclusive wealthy areas where people are putting in 12,000+ a year in property taxes. You have a few here and a few there, but honestly not an overwhelming majority. Those people pay at the Northend pay just like everyone else. They are just as deserving of their facilities as the good people of Pensacola. If you live in Pensacola then your dollars do go to good use, as your resources and schools have not been cut like the Northend! PERIOD! These people continue to pay and lose services every year. At least the Southern end can continue to reap the benefits. Thank you *eeyore* for your selfless contributions. I am sure they are put to good use. (rolling eyes sarcastically)…

  17. ProudArmyParent on September 27th, 2012 10:40 am

    There is something wrong when I have to take my Grandchildren a cross the stateline to use the Flomaton Library.

  18. eeyore on September 27th, 2012 10:22 am

    …i guess people have not learned that they get what they pay for…if you dont want government in your life and want to pay less taxes…then there are going to be concessions that must be made…and for all those folks who mention “they take MY tax money and cut our services…especially on the northside…” well, the same arguement can be made about my tax dollars should not be paying for services out there or for a library i dont even use…or schools since i dont have children…but you dont hear me griping about it since i know my money is being used for the good of the overall citizens here…based on the population of this county…just what is the percentage of people of this county live in molino and the northside in comparision to the rest of the county? and what is the percentage of the overall gross of money and social services of this county are being utilized for these folks out there? i sure hope it is in accordance to what they contribute…

  19. Jane on September 27th, 2012 10:13 am

    Thank you William for making people aware of this situation….very well written and good points made! Start emailing and calling the county commissioners people!!!!! make our voices heard!!!!

  20. Leroy Carter on September 27th, 2012 10:09 am

    The Westside Branch was opened to appease one of the minority members of the city council. That being the one who always talks about not being able to use a particulat water fountain when he was young.

    Oh yes I am a city resident and do not agree with this bull.

  21. Michelle on September 27th, 2012 10:08 am

    I grew up in Cantonment, but now live and work in South Mississippi. The Library system here is fantastic. There is a total of 8 branches all within a 45 mile radius. The branch I frequent is about 5 miles North and 10 miles West of two other branches. What the city doesn’t understand, is that if you’re having to WALK or BIKE to the library, like so many patrons do, then you simply can’t have enough branches to service the community. The kids I see come in to the library usually come after school and have to walk there, as their parents are still working and they need to use computers for homework. After seeing the library community here in South Mississippi, the system in Pensacola could learn a few things.

  22. sam on September 27th, 2012 9:52 am

    been posting on here repeatedly about the north end getting the shaft. they want our tax money, then cut our services. it started with the schools, our county offices, the roads, etc. anytime there are cuts to be made guess where they make them?

  23. Concerned Mom of 3 on September 27th, 2012 8:53 am

    I don’t think this article could have been any better! Please let everyone in our area come together for the good of our families. Our resources are very limited and we need to use them to their full extent. Contact who needs to be aware of this problem and voice your opinion! We desperately need our Library!

  24. mike weeks on September 27th, 2012 8:51 am

    well with all the free help in these library, were is the money going, cutting hours, means less hours to pay staff, which would mean more money to do something with
    but i bet they are on a high pay,
    one it is amazing how they cry wolf, not enough money! need more
    but never ger to see where the money is spend

  25. sick of politics on September 27th, 2012 8:50 am

    Enough is enough…we at the north end need to rally and stand up to the people who feel we aren’t worthy of anything in our part of county…we work and pay taxes in the county and still get left out of everything…maybe we should be annexed into
    Alabama…Escambia county doesn’t seem to want us…just our money…we are not ignorant people and we have less crime than Pensacola has….our children need the library since they have to leave town to attend school.

    William you are wonderful…keep up the good work…we stand behind you!!!!

  26. Trish on September 27th, 2012 8:36 am

    Holy cow! William you nailed it right on the head. While reading your article my mouth dropped open. “They do think we are stupid hicks” who will let them run all over us. Enough is enough we need to be taken seriously by all of the commissioners and the city. You could not have said it any better.

  27. William on September 27th, 2012 8:05 am

    >>>Does anyone have the e-mail address for Representative Miller, Washington DC, congressmen, Governor?

    Being federal or state, those folks don’t really have anything to do with our libraries — that’s almost all county or city of Pensacola.

    (Rep. Miller is regular reader of NorthEscambia.com, as are several “important” people in the governor’s office, since you asked about them.)

    Here are ESCAMBIA COUNTY contacts:

    Wilson Robertson, District I
    email: District1@co.escambia.fl.us
    P.O. Box 1591, Pensacola, Fl 32591
    850-595-4910

    Gene Valentino, District II
    email: District2@co.escambia.fl.us
    221 Palafox Place, Ste 400
    Pensacola, Fl 32502
    850-595-4920

    Marie Young, District III
    email: District3@co.escambia.fl.us
    P.O. Box 1591, Pensacola, Fl 32591
    850-595-4930

    Grover Robinson, District IV
    email: District4@co.escambia.fl.us
    P.O. Box 1591, Pensacola, Fl 32591
    850-595-4940

    Kevin White, District V
    email: District5@co.escambia.fl.us
    P.O. Box 1591, Pensacola, Fl 32502
    850-595-4950

    Here are CITY OF PENSACOLA contacts:

    Sam Hall, Council President At Large District B
    email: shall@cityofpensacola.com

    Ronald Townsend Council Vice-President District 7
    email: rtownsend@cityofpensacola.com

    P.C. Wu, Ph. D. Council Member, District 1
    email: pcwu@cityofpensacola.com

    Sherri F. Myers, Council Member, District 2
    email: smyers@cityofpensacola.com

    MarenDeWeese, Council Member, District 3
    email: mdeweese@cityofpensacola.com

    Larry B. Johnson, Council Member, District 4
    email: ljohnson@cityofpensacola.com

    John Jerralds, Council Member, District 5
    email: jjerralds@cityofpensacola.com

    Brian Spencer, Council Member, District 6
    email: bspencer@cityofpensacola.com

    Megan B. Pratt, Council Member, At Large District A
    email: mpratt@cityofpensacola.com

  28. Concerned on September 27th, 2012 8:01 am

    Does anyone have the e-mail address for Representative Miller, Washington DC, congressmen, Governor? NorthEscambia’s e-mail address needs to be forward to them so they may read up on this article about the library. People and especially our county commissioners don’t understand that when they ride by Century Woods, etc. there are not a lot of vehicles in there, thereby taking into consideration that a lot of people in Century WALK everywehre. There are not any taxiicabs in this area. Let our voices be heard!

  29. greylady on September 27th, 2012 7:45 am

    The Board of County Commissioers is seeking nominees to sit on the Library Board. Contact the Commissioner for District 5 and make sure the Northern part of the county has representation on the Library Board. Make your voice heard loud and clear. Surely there is someone in the area who could make it a point to have that constituency represented.

  30. Armymajorswife on September 27th, 2012 7:08 am

    I am so glad this article was written. This is what i said yesterday. They just expect the people of the North end of the county to sit quite and take their unfair cuts once more. It sickens me they way they disproportionately make cuts and try to justify them. On top of that people want to say “don’t make this about the Northend, Southend.” It was made that way when the cuts were made unfairly. I wished more people would stand up and make the argument of unfairness. The Squeaky wheel gets the grease, my mother always said. It’s time the Northend pulls together and makes a lot of noise over their unfair treatment!

  31. Carolyn Bramblett on September 27th, 2012 6:47 am

    Well said, indeed.

  32. Jane on September 27th, 2012 6:34 am

    The north end of Escambia County has always been neglected by the County Commissioners when it comes to improvements. Pensacola gets to use the tax dollars collected and the North end of Escambia County gets to pay taxes.

  33. Sandra on September 27th, 2012 5:39 am

    Well dang! I’m impressed!! Well said! I am still wondering what was the purpose of the Westside branch considering it is downtown and not on the westside and within walking distance of the Main branch?

  34. Mary on September 27th, 2012 5:11 am

    Excellent arguments! I believe the people of North Escambia, especially our children (our future!), deserve a written response from Escambia county. I would also like to see our superintendent and school board members address this crucial issue !

  35. Northender43 on September 27th, 2012 5:09 am

    fhg – I agree!

    Why is the north end of the county such a “Black Sheep”? When anything needs to be cut it is from North end services. We are taxpayers too. If anyone needs these libraries it the north end. Most of the children need the services that the libraries offer – books for research projects, computers, and other resources. This is an election year. We need to have our voices heard.

  36. fhg on September 27th, 2012 3:37 am

    HEAR, HEAR! WELL SAID1





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