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Library Staff Takes Hit to Cut Deficit

It was a blow to Victoria Rakhshteyn when she learned last month that Ferguson Library in Stamford would close its doors to volumes of patrons on Sundays to save money. "It's pretty crowded," she said then, expressing hope that "people will do something for the library."

They have. And that help is coming from Rakhshteyn, who works as a library assistant at Ferguson, and other library staff members. Staff salary reductions, a moratorium on raises and a fortnight furlough have been instituted to help reduce the library's budget deficit, its board of directors announced Monday afternoon.

The measures, along with possible union givebacks, have suspended until at least Oct. 4 plans for a drastic reduction in hours that had been slated to start today. Cuts in staffing also had been planned.

"The entire library staff has come together to help reduce the shortfall caused by the mayor's drastic cut in library funding," library board of trustees Chair George Harvey in a statement. "We are optimistic that we will be able to restore some of the hours scheduled to be cut, but we need more time to resolve how many can be saved."

So far, management salaries have been cut by 10 percent, down to 2004-05 levels. One full-time management position has been changed to half time, and part-time salaries have been reduced. Supervisory staff members, who will not receive pay increases for the second year, will take a two-week furlough without pay.

In addition, the budget for supplies, materials and utilities has been cut by $200,000. The corporate community has pledged $130,000. Other funding ideas are being discussed, including business sponsorship of a Sunday for $2,500. A fundraising gala also is in the works.

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