For Stacey Richardson, there's little time to relish the news that she's achieved a dream — taking the wheel of her hometown library.
Richardson learned Tuesday night the board of directors chose her to replace the library's retiring director, , who leaves at the end of this month after 37 years.
"There is definitely not a honeymoon period here," Richardson said. "I’m getting to work right away."
One of Richardson's biggest challenges is dealing with recent cuts in state funding to local libraries.
The budget for Kent's library has dropped each year since 2007.
In 2010, Kent's library operated on a budget of about $1.4 million. Of that, about $1.2 million — or 93 percent — came from the state Public Library Fund. Last year's budget compares with the $1.5 million the library had to work with in 2009. In 2008, the library had slightly more than 2009 at $1.7 million. And in 2007, the library's budget was about $1.76 million.
To combat those cuts, Kent's library has reduced material expenses, saved money on employee expenses through attrition, and cut library hours. So far, the library has avoided layoffs.
"The library, under Carmen’s guidance, has really done a lot of belt tightening," Richardson said. "We have been doing an excellent job of monitoring our funding. However, it is continuing to decrease. It is a tough time right now, definitely."
Richardson, 37, is a lifelong resident of Kent and lives here with her husband and three children, who attend . She's been working in libraries for 15 years and has worked at the Kent library since 2007. She was manager of the children's department before taking the director job.
She graduated from Hiram College and earned a master's degree in library science from .
Despite the bittersweet atmosphere of her promotion, Richardson is not letting the difficult times all libraries face dampen the moment too much. Being a lifetime Kent resident gives the news special meaning for her.
"This is where I’ve chosen to stay and raise my family," Richardson said. "Being able to give back and to help other people in the community and provide servieces to them, I’m just really proud to be able to do that in my hometown."
And despite tough budgetary times, Richardson said she looks forward to making some improvements "to our already outstanding services that we provide here.
"However, I know I’m jumping headfirst into some challenges as well, due to state budget cuts that have been affecting our library for several years now."