Library Announces Layoffs

SMITHFIELD – Members of the Smithfield Town Council have received their annual update on the Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield.  Library Director Renita Barksdale presented the September update, which included the disclosure of employee layoffs.

Mrs. Barksdale said the library is operating on a budget of $1,055,000 this fiscal year.  Johnston County is funding $589,000, the Town of Smithfield $270,000 and the State an additional $196,000.

Due to budget reductions and COVID, the library was forced to lay-off two full-time and two part-time employees.  The lay-offs resulted in an annual cost savings of $130,000, Mrs. Barksdale said.

A new change should make books available much sooner. “Cataloging and processing procedures were changed and all materials will not be cataloged and processed by the vendors,” she said. “New materials are now shelf-ready when delivered to the library.”

The public library has started offering temporary virtual library cards while the facility is closed to the public. The card gives residents access to all online resources. The card is good for 6 months. When the library fully reopens, patrons can convert their virtual cards to a regular library card. Nearly 300 patrons have signed up for the new virtual program.

Additionally, the library started curbside service in March, allowing patrons to check out materials. Over 1,500 people have used the service.

Mrs. Barksdale said the library has added plexiglass at the children’s, circulation and reference desks. Carpets were cleaned in high volume areas and hand sanitizer areas were added throughout the building.  Each returned book is quarantined for 24 hours and sprayed with disinfectant.

The public library was recently awarded a $7,600 CARES Act grant that will be used to purchase laptops for classrooms.  When the library reopens at full capacity, Mrs. Barksdale said they will offer basic computer classes for residents.