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Open letter to our patrons
Library revenues are down while Library use is up
Due to declining property values, severe cuts to state aid to public libraries, and other revenue losses we have had to make painful choices about where to reduce our expenditures in 2010. Revenues from our operating millage (94% of our funding) are down 2.5% from 2009. We are anticipating an 11% decrease in 2011 and another 7% decrease in 2012. Increasing costs include public utilities and contributions to the pension fund. Meanwhile library use is at record levels and will remain on the upswing for the foreseeable future. In short you can expect longer lines for service and longer waits for titles.
Our primary goal is to maintain current staffing levels to meet the increase in numbers of library users. We are hoping to hold the line on this but have a hiring freeze in effect so vacancies will not be filled, e.g. Assistant Director. We have revised the hours at Leggett Branch eliminating late hours on Mondays & Wednesdays (when we saw far fewer patrons) to make best use of current staff hours.
Reductions in other areas include:
- Reducing the budget for the collection – books, magazines, audio formats – by 50%.
- We are developing a RENTAL collection for copies of best sellers in order to turn over some copies faster than those filling the holds queue. Copies in this collection will be available on a walk-in basis and for a non-refundable rental fee of $1 for the first 4 days and $.25/day for each additional day you keep the title. These copies will not be holdable. We will have holdable copies of all RENTAL titles in the general collection as well. Funds generated by the RENTAL collection will be used to purchase copies of best sellers.
- We can still take your suggestions for titles to add to the collection. Just know that we can act on far fewer of them than in the past.
- Reducing the materials used to prepare new items for the shelves, e.g. foregoing plastic book covers. This item alone equals roughly 500 new books.
- Eliminating interlibrary loans from libraries outside of Michigan - a victim of cuts to state aid to public libraries. We have access to rich resources in many public libraries of southeastern Michigan through our library cooperative and in many other Michigan libraries through the MelCat statewide interlibrary loan system. MelCat alone has eliminated the majority of requests we used to make for materials from libraries out of state.
We are in the best possible position to manage in these difficult times. Knowledgeable staff members are available to assist you. By staff initiative, a Library Improvement Team has formed to creatively meet library service needs on an ongoing basis with little or no budget impact. The collections and public access computers have been maintained at optimal capacities during previous years which should lessen the impact of these cutbacks. We hope that we can count on your understanding and support as we work through these challenging times.
Joan M. Rogers