Denver Public Library Prepares for a Potential $2.5 Million Budget Cut

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Library budget cuts could mean closing 7-12 branches in 2012.

The Denver Public Library Commission met yesterday, April 20, 2011 to discuss potential cuts to the Library’s budget, as well as options for sustainable funding. They released this White Paper which explains more about the situation and their recommendations.

In a nutshell, DPL has been instructed by the city to prepare a 2012 budget proposal with a target reduction of $2.5 million. The three options for meeting this target are:

  1. The Library could further reduce hours of operation (however, many branches are only open 32 hours per week as it is).
  2. Reduce hours and cut the materials budget.
  3. Close some branches and use the savings to maintain adequate service at the remaining branches and Central.

The Library Commission recommends pursuing branch closures to maintain minimum service standards, and with a $2.5 million reduction in the budget, this would mean 7-12 branches would close indefinitely.

The White Paper also details the minimum Library service standards that the Commission has set forth, and further explores DPL’s need for sustainable funding, and what those options may look like.

We need EVERYONE in our community who is upset by the idea of closures to contact their elected officials and share how important the Library is to them, their families, their neighbors and our City.

Budget Documentation

White Paper

Press Release

Comments

Thank you for the detail - the background/context helps in understanding the recommendation. With these options it certainly makes the most sense. And yes, I will support it when it gets on the ballot!

Real constructive suggestion - more unemployment and no one to run the library. GENIUS idea. What's next, a "my taxpayer dollars blah blah blah" Tea Party rant?

So who is going to run the library then? You?

How could I run a library, I am just a customer...I am guessing you work for the library..Maybe you could do it

Closing library branches is such a tired solution anymore. How about everyone in the entire DPL system be held accountable for their fines? Market this concept in a creative manner and generate tons of buzz. There's your 2.5 million....

It would be helpful if people actually paid their fines, but DPL has already lowered the fine limit to 5$ as oppossed to the 10$ limit before in hopes that it would enforce fine payment. The change sadly has not made a difference (as far as I'm aware).

The Library collected about $680,000 in fines in 2010 -- and that revenue goes back to the City's General Fund, NOT the Library. We do our best to collect fines and have implemented a system whereby anyone with $5 in overdue fines has their library card blocked from use until they pay their fine, and library card accounts with fines and/or fees totaling $50 or more will be sent to a collection agency for further action.

More info on fees and fines: http://denverlibrary.org/content/fines-fees

We cannot let this attrition continue. DPL has always done its best to serve its community. It continues to evolve along with the latest technology to bring the people the cultural resources they desire. It has done what it could to provide for us and we need to be there to provide for the library. During hard times like these the public library is more necessary than ever. Many people don’t have computers of their own or don’t know how to do an online search and application for a job. DPL has computers, programs and staff to help people meet these objectives, and this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many ways they serve us.

Our library system of which we are so justifiably proud is in serious jeopardy. Everyone who cares about the library, their community and their children needs to read the Whitepaper posted on the library’s homepage to begin to understand how dire the situation really is. The paper points out that this situation is not new, DPL has been struggling for years to maintain a satisfactory level of service with ongoing budget cuts. It goes on to show that the crisis has become imminent and the time has come for some critical decisions about what the library’s fate will be,

I’ve always been lucky enough to grow up in cities with good libraries. Some of my fondest childhood memories revolve around the story hours and the science fiction movies they used to show us during summer vacation. At every stage of my life I have enjoyed the treasures that the library offered to me free of charge. I’ve come to appreciate and use them more than ever as we’ve changed together over the years. I’ve also had the experience of revisiting a once magnificent library in San Antonio that had fallen into a state of disrepair and neglect. This experience makes the threat Denver faces that much more concrete to me.

DPL is still in the business of enriching the lives of children and adults. Their mandate is not the mandate of a corporation to maximize profits whatever the social outcome. On the contrary, these public employees make a fraction of what they could make for the same work in the private sector, in order to provide for the overall enrichment of society. (Speaking of corporate culture, I don’t have unwavering confidence in the future of the internet that many argue has displaced the traditional library- the battle for bandwidth and the issue of net neutrality remains to be determined.)

I think it’s a waste of time to debate with people who either don’t understand or don’t care what is happening to their communities. More often than not these people are impervious to logic and can’t be convinced by any evidence or argument that can be offered. There are plenty of us who love our libraries and who will fight to preserve this vital service for our neighbors and our selves. Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, many of us will fail to appreciate what we have until it’s gone.

Please be sure to elect city officials who support your point of view where this vital issue is concerned and fight like hell to hang on to a good thing.

I love the library too, and I was surprised to hear that the Library Commission and Shirley Amore believe that the best way to make up a proposed budget cut of $2.5M would be to close between 7 and 12 of the branch libraries. I read the Library Commission White Paper, and then looked at the annual budget for the City of Denver. I found it on the City's website at denver.gov.org/budget/CityBudget

The Library receives money from the City's General Fund and is a line item on page 72 of the 2011 Budget. It looks like funding for the library has been generous and consistant--$31M in 2009, $30M in 2010 and up again to $30.9M in 2011.

The City of Denver's Office of Budget and Management projects that Denver faces a budget shortfall of $100M in 2012. It looks like the library has been asked to make $2.5M in cuts to the projected $31M it is set to receive from the General Fund in 2012. So that means that the library, after cuts, would still have $28.5M to run the library--and all of the branches-- in 2012.

I love the library, but the library isn't the only entity being asked to make cuts for 2012. That seems fair to me. If the Library Commission, and Shirley Amore, can't figure out how to keep the library open with a proposed 8% cut to one year's budget, then they aren't very good managers.

The very last post in the comments should be front and center. You've put things in perspective with this:

"The Library receives money from the City's General Fund and is a line item on page 72 of the 2011 Budget. It looks like funding for the library has been generous and consistant--$31M in 2009, $30M in 2010 and up again to $30.9M in 2011.

The City of Denver's Office of Budget and Management projects that Denver faces a budget shortfall of $100M in 2012. It looks like the library has been asked to make $2.5M in cuts to the projected $31M it is set to receive from the General Fund in 2012. So that means that the library, after cuts, would still have $28.5M to run the library--and all of the branches-- in 2012."

There are many things the library could do to work with this cut in funding. As a casual library patron, I see things all the time that are very wasteful.

1. The job of Librarian has gradually been made redundant with the Clerks doing the bulk of the work at the branches. There should never be more than one Librarian on staff during any given shift, because they don't have enough to do. I'm not saying anyone should lose their job, but with all the new branches, and branches reopening after closures, the Librarians could be working at other places rather than hiring new positions.

2. There is way too much waste in materials. Not only do the collections get weeded out to the point of not having much of a selection in books, but there are way too many copies purchased of "best sellers" and other "fleetingly popular" material. With 23 branches, there should never be more than 23 copies of anything. If people cannot afford to buy a book (or other material), they expect to wait on a hold list. How many millions of dollars are wasted in this way every year?

3. The lavish parties and events to bring in donations. I will need to go back and see if anyone linked to how monetary donations and endowments are spent, but do not understand why there aren't already enormous funds to support the library before the City contributes $30+ million on average per year.

4. Someone in a previous post thought people working for the library weren't paid much and had no problem with people in the background jobs making up to $100,000 a year. If you look at the job postings from time to time, even the lowest job at the library is well above minimum wage, and anyone making $50,000 on up in this economy is extremely fortunate.

5. The unemployment rate for Denver was up to 10.2% in March 2011. As people join the poverty level, or are already there due to under-employment, they use the library services more and more. It's wrong to even think it's okay to close half of the libraries in this economy.

I agree with the post above:

"If the Library Commission, and Shirley Amore, can't figure out how to keep the library open with a proposed 8% cut to one year's budget, then they aren't very good managers."

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