CHARLESTON, W.Va. - In one of the first of what could be a long string of cost-saving measures, the Kanawha County Public Library has canceled this year's West Virginia Book Festival.
The library system has been scrambling to come up with millions of dollars in the wake of a state Supreme Court decision that stripped about 40 percent of its operating budget.
The library system's board of directors voted Monday to withdraw its support for the festival, which was scheduled for Oct. 19 and 20. Because the library system provides most of the festival's support, the decision effectively canceled the event.
Officials hope to continue to hold the used book sale that is normally attached to the larger festival -- it generates enough money in sales to remain viable, even in a tough financial environment.
But gone are the book signings and author lectures, the book vendors and events.
Board President Michael Albert said the festival is "at once educational to the community and the type of thing that a library should do" but too expensive an event to justify when other services that are the "essence" of the library's mission are at stake.
"Personally, I despise the idea of losing the book festival," said Alan Engelbert, library system director.
"I hate to be here suggesting that we do this. But that is our suggestion."
The library's bleak financial outlook forced the board's hand. The measure was ultimately approved unanimously, amid winces and groans. Board member Virginia Rugeley muttered "Ouch, ouch, ouch" before casting her aye vote.