Editor's note: An earlier version of this article should have stated that Kathryn Barth is a past board member of Historic Boulder.

Historians, researchers and members of Boulder's public library commission pushed back against proposed cuts to staff and operations at the Carnegie Library for Local History during a Wednesday night meeting.

The commission wasn't even sure how much time to allot to each of the handful of speakers, not being accustomed to public attendance at monthly commission meetings.

"We've never had this problem," said chairperson Joni Teter.

Reduced hours at Carnegie are on the table as part of the proposed 2019 budget. The reductions — which would reduce Carnegie branch hours from 25 to four a week — would save the city $60,094, according to city spokesperson Patrick von Keyserling.

Hours have been cut once before; in 2014, as a major digitization process got underway. Those who spoke Wednesday said Carnegie was an invaluable resource, and further cuts would severely limit their ability to utilize its vast collections.

"Carnegie is the only facility in the county that has these resources," said John Sand from Gold Hill. For that town's historic documents and research needs, "there is no other resource," he said.


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"Whenever Boulder gets into trouble, the piggy bank to fix it all is historic resources," said Kathryn Barth, a preservation architect and past board member of Historic Boulder. "Carnegie should have more resources, not less."

Though the library's master plan calls for millions of dollars in increased funding, the department was required to turn in a budget with 10 percent cuts, said David Farnan, library and arts director, as were all city departments. The cuts suggested were ones that would have the smallest impact on the public, he said.

"If we do have to make cuts, our intent all along was not to have the public at large feel it, and if they were going to feel it, the fewest number," Farnan said. "All of our cuts affected people."

The proposed budget is not final; it will go before city council for a study session on Tuesday, then public hearings in October with final adoption by Dec. 1.

Members of the library commission intend to push back against the proposed cuts, citing a budget that, when adjusted for inflation, has been stagnant since 2002. Staffing has actually fallen at the library since that time; from 92 to 75 full-time employees. Volunteers are increasingly being relied on for special programs and day-to-day operations.

"Is it unrealistic to say we've been good soldiers for the last 15 years and we don't want to make any cuts?" asked library commission member Joel Koenig.

The commission intends to send a letter to city council stating its opposition to the cuts ahead of Tuesday's study session.

"I'm not so into being a team player anymore," Teter said.

Shay Castle: 303-473-1626, castles@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/shayshinecastle