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Bexar County Votes To Provide $3.78 Million To San Antonio Public Library

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Bexar Co.
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Bexar County voted Tuesday to continue $3.78 million in funding for the next fiscal year for the for the San Antonio Public Library system - the same level of funding as last year. 

But library officials worry about the future of county support as it continues to build its Bibliotech clientele.

Library board chairwoman Jean Brady took her plea for a long-term approach to county commissioners.

"The loss of $3.78 million to the San Antonio Public Library budget in the years to come would mean that we could no longer provide library services to county residents outside the city limits," she said. 

Brady says closing branches would impact almost half a million people.                        

County Judge Nelson Wolff says library closures is a worse-case scenario and the county does not plan to withdraw its support for the library system after 2015.

"I think we're being extremely forthcoming in supporting the library system, and we want to continue to do that. We think they've got a good system. We're going to work with them. We do have Bibliotech, but that's an extension beyond what they're doing," he said. 

Library officials have been concerned about funding for some time. The city has reduced hours and services, and Brady says there are 24 municipalities that don’t fund the library but whose residents can all get library cards at no cost.

"We're talking about 24 incorporated cities that are within Bexar County itself - Alamo Heights, Terrell Hills, Olmos Park, Shavano Park - and this is one of the reasons we'd like to come to the table. We all need to talk about how we can make this funding happen and make it equal," Brady said. 

"That's a good question. There are 26 cities here and we're paying for the right of other cities to go into the library. I don't know if they've ever discussed that with the other cities. We certainly haven't done that," Wolff said. 

For now, Wolff says the county is supporting the library at the same level as last year and is not threatening to cut off funding after this fiscal year.