Library unveils restructuring plan

Marvin Walters might be from Loves Park, but he does most, if not all, of his genealogy research at the Rockford Public Library.

After this week’s staff reductions and hours cuts, Walters hopes the library will be open enough to meet his needs and that there will be enough people around to help him locate books and do other research.

“I’m here at least a couple times a week. More in the winter,” said Walters, 68. “Everyone is very polite and efficient. When I started doing genealogy two years ago, they practically baby-sat me until I knew what I was doing. I hope that when I have to ask for help that there still are people around.”

Recent restructuring at the Rockford Public Library has led to the elimination of over 20 percent of the library’s full-time positions.

The layoffs, which will affect around 30 employees, are the first the library has suffered since the 1970’s, says Community Relations Officer Emily Hartzog. According to the plan, the staff will be reduced from 104 FTE positions to 80 or 82.

“This is uncharted territory for our staff. They are handling it incredibly well, but there’s definitely a grieving process going on. It’s been emotional,” notes Hartzog. “We’re grieving for our co-workers and for the loss of the way things used to be.”