Cuyahoga County Library Furloughs, Lays Off 300 Due To Coronavirus

A sign outside the Cuyahoga County Library
The library’s branches have been closed since March 14 due to the coronavirus. [ideastream file photo]

The Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL) system has furloughed or laid off around 300 employees in an effort to accommodate an expected loss in revenue from the coronavirus.

Eighty of the 300 staff were seasonal employees working through the school year and were formally laid off, according to Executive Director Tracy Strobel.

The remaining furloughed staffers were part-time workers or responsible for tasks that aren’t necessary while the branches are closed, Strobel said, such as re-shelving books. Those employees will likely be brought back once the library reopens, she said.

“When it’s safe and sensible, we’ll certainly be reopening, and we’re looking to be stronger than ever,” Strobel said. “We’ll certainly be needed by the community.”

It’s unclear when the libraries will be able to reopen, Strobel said. Remaining staff are working remotely for half their normal hours.

The staffing reductions are to accommodate an expected drop in revenue, Strobel said. The library gets a portion of its funding from the state’s General Fund, which comes from taxes. The state’s post-pandemic projections show a hit to that fund and to the library system of about $5 million, she said.

That’s about a quarter of CCPL’s revenue, Strobel said.

“The library is not immune to economic challenges,” Strobel said. “When the economy suffers, our revenue suffers.”

The library is usually a resource during economic downturns, Strobel said, as people seek help with finding new employment and getting businesses back up and running.

“People often turn to the library to gain access to resources and services they might buy if they had more disposable income,” Strobel said.

Library management is following state guidance on when branches should reopen, Strobel said. The libraries have been closed since March 14.

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