Columbus Metropolitan Library announced today, April 13, that 609 of its 846 full- and part-time employees will be furloughed indefinitely starting April 19.

In a news release, library officials said the cost-reduction plan is a result of the library’s extended closure due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

All furloughed employees hold positions where job functions cannot be performed remotely while the library is closed, the release said.

Health benefits will continue to be provided for those furloughed employees currently enrolled, officials said. The employee-assistance program provided by the library will also be available for all affected employees, according to the release.

“To help get Columbus Metropolitan Library through this period of great uncertainty, we had to make some incredibly hard decisions to reduce our operating costs,” library CEO Patrick Losinski said in a prepared statement. “I want the community to know that each and every one of our staff members are incredibly important to the work that we do, and we look forward to having everyone back to work following this unprecedented public-health crisis.”

Ben Zenitsky, spokesman for the library, said CML is expected to bring those workers back once Gov. Mike DeWine orders businesses and governments to reopen.

The figure accounts for about 72% of the library-system’s workforce, including customer service, support staff and drivers whose jobs can’t be done by remote means, Zenitsky said.

All CML locations have been closed since March 14 and will remain closed through at least May 2, officials said. Although CML locations will be closed for this extended period of time, digital library resources are available at columbuslibrary.org, including eBooks, eAudiobooks, magazines, movies and music, plus research and learning tools, the information said.

CML already has significantly reduced planned expenditures in its 2020 non-salary operating budget and announced a hiring freeze and other cost-saving measures that equate to more than $7.8 million, the news release said.

Those employees who aren’t furloughed will be subject to pay reductions ranging from 2.5% to 10%. The salary of CML’s CEO will be reduced by 20%, the release said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary