The Denver Public Library faces a potential $2.4 million budget reduction for 2013

Last month, the Denver Public Library received a $2.4 million budget reduction target for 2013 from the City Budget Office.  As in past years, all City agencies, including DPL, are given an initial budget number and are required to submit their ideas on how to reach their target.

The Library’s 2012 budget from the City’s General Fund is $32,104,500, which funds 18 of the 23 branches at only four days (32 hours) a week; four branches at six days (48 hours) a week; and one branch at four days a week and four hours on Sunday (36 hours). The Central Library is open 52 hours a week, with weekend hours from 1- 5 p.m. The new branch opening in Stapleton this summer (which was built with voter-approved Better Denver Bond funds) will be at a service level of 32 hours – or open only four days per week.

While we were able to avoid additional budget cuts in 2012, DPL has faced reductions year-over-year for half a decade, resulting in reduced hours, materials and technology budgets.  A $2.4 million budget reduction in 2013 would mean even fewer service hours and/or the closing of some branches.  No one wants to see that happen.  We are committed to working together with the Mayor and City Council to find long-term sustainable funding solutions for the Denver Public Library and the entire City.

Written by Shirley Amore on May 17, 2012

Comments

D on May 23, 2012

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If anything this underscores the increasing trend towards anti-intellectualism and an aversion towards the cultivation of critical thinking within our societal compass. Education is not valued anymore, it is not valued in regards to investing into epicenters or havens for personal and community oriented forums or convergence points that could help serve and further these purposes. The preoccupation with funding and the 'expenses' undermines how the institution of the Library enables so many who are disenfranchised from possessing the tools and capabilities to have access to basic resources. If anything, it manifests how we are becoming 'functionally illiterate,' where we will rationalize and justify anything to become subservient to a mere abstract code: Money. Don't tell me you genuinely care about building educated citizens, if anything we care about manufacturing enfeebled debilitated minds bereft of the capacity to truly challenge and question why in the first place this should be a legitimate question.

D on May 23, 2012

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If anything this underscores the increasing trend towards anti-intellectualism and an aversion towards the cultivation of critical thinking within our societal compass. Education is not valued anymore, it is not valued in regards to investing into epicenters or havens for personal and community oriented forums or convergence points that could help serve and further these purposes. The preoccupation with funding and the 'expenses' undermines how the institution of the Library enables so many who are disenfranchised from possessing the tools and capabilities to have access to basic resources. If anything, it manifests how we are becoming 'functionally illiterate,' where we will rationalize and justify anything to become subservient to a mere abstract code: Money. Don't tell me you genuinely care about building educated citizens, if anything we care about manufacturing enfeebled debilitated minds bereft of the capacity to truly challenge and question why in the first place this should be a legitimate question.

LoverOfLibraries on May 24, 2012

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Library didn't push the bill to increase funding last year, because . . . ? Oh yes, I recall, it trusted the mayor to increase funding this year. In fact, it praised the mayor as a great supporter in the same breath.

Until the library management finds a spine and a voice and stops listening to the Milquetoast in charge of PR, the library will be in trouble. I still don't understand why, in a time of conflict, the board would hire staff that is so utterly wimpy and conflict-averse.

Comment

Your comment is ludicrous. Who are you calling spinelss? It's your job to push the bill not the staff's job, fellow citizen.

Unless you find your spine and make your views known to your legislator nothing will happen.

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Ludicrous? Perhaps you live in a cave and haven't noticed how the world works. The library director cannot accede to every attempt to give it less money and praise the people screwing over the library. The library director must make the case that the library needs more money. Advocacy for the institution is part of the job for everyone who leads an institution.

John W. on May 26, 2012

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It's past time the DPL system got creative with its finances. Do not put your burdens on the public. Our bills of necessity: Excel, water, food, gas prices go up consideraly every year. The last thing I can afford and I know most Denver citizens can afford is paying for the library. The DPL has a fundraising organization that supports it. Plug into these funds and put them to better use. The DPL has a Board of notable citizens that can put their heads together and figure out how to redistribute funds within the DPL system in a more effective manner. Look inside for solutions, not outside to a public that is already overly taxed.

Anonymous on May 26, 2012

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I agree that DPL has lost its mission as a haven of education. It spews a lot of rhetoric about education and resources but in fact spends its money on the latest popular DVDs which are available elsewhere. Instead of having a real mission, it's just there to "give the people what they want."

Everyone is on Facebook and Twitter, but perfectly good books are discarded if they do not circulate at a library within a year, so the book shelves are half empty to make room for more movies. This level of "weeding" is insane. If you take your kid to the library to find a copy of Moby Dick, there isn't one. There are plenty of movies and access to computer games but no more classic books and little of value to browse. Whose decision is this, an educated librarian with a goal of educating the community, or a teenager who would rather watch movies than read a book? Isn't there anyone available to make an informed decision about whether to get rid of a book that's been around and loved for a hundred years? Maybe someone will pick it up and read it just because it's there on the shelf.

Since when were kids and street people deciding what to keep in the library? Why do you give library cards to people who steal DVDs? Is it really necessary to let someone with nothing but a phone bill get a library card? Why don't you have a few rules and actually enforce them instead of appealing to the lowest common denominator? Why did you spend millions of dollars to upgrade a perfectly good computer system that doesn't even connect with Prospector and shuts down your entire ILL capability? Why is a neighborhood "family" library closed on Saturdays?

I don't feel sorry for the library anymore when it faces a budget cut, it isn't doing its job, it is making bad decisions. It wastes whatever money it has on stuff that can be done better by the private sector. Go back to being a beacon of knowledge instead of a follower of fashion.

Anonymous on May 26, 2012

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Back in the early days of DPL and the media market(VHS era) the trend was to purchase "educational" items. Well that lasted for about 5 minutes. Now the budget goes for blockbuster DVD's in insane quantities. At the same time try to find a new Book on CD or Large Print title.
Don't feel to sorry for the shorter hours at Central ,the branches have been cut to the bone for over a decade. And the result of shorter open hours at the branches means most branch staff during the course of any week are having to travel to and work at 2-3 different libraries. And yet the number of Central administrators and staff never seems to change. Most Denver residents never visit Central and depend on the Branch system.
It is not only the way the budget is spent by DPL it's the people spending it that need a closer look.

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Really? Are you seriously saying that the reason for this problem isn't our government's constant failure to see spending on its people as a positive, but the fault of the library for buying popular items? That is such faulty logic. Most people cannot afford to rent DVDs because they have no job because they cannot find one. Some people have an assignment to compare a film and its novel base, but don't want to spend money buying the DVD or renting it. The problem isn't with spending on DVDs, but the government's lack of response to this. Libraries are more than just havens for education, they are havens for book-lovers who wish to preview novels before adding them to their collection, and for people who love to compare and question the world around them (such as comparing the Harry Potter books to the God-awful movies). I find your logic shallow and unnerving in this time of economic depression, that you blame the victims of the system rather than the criminals assaulting them. This is the fault of no other than our ineffective political system, which constantly fails to do its job: make laws and resolve conflicts. Because our political system is so busy sitting around talking about the weather, or debating laws to death at the end of a session, there is no room to talk about the underfunded libraries. I do agree that hardly anyone uses Central, aside from students living in the dorms down at Auraria, or people who need extra weekend study time to concoct a thesis. Cutting down on jobs isn't the way to go, for that only creates more of a deficit in the larger system by cutting the consumer population down. However, something has to be done. Maybe limiting spending on DVDs would be good, but it's ridiculous to presume that all of the libraries' troubles stem from spending on popular items. No, this is as much a political issue as an economic one.

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Really? "The government" is at fault??? I say the voters are the culprits in this, who sit back and let corporations and the rich 1% outsource jobs, pollute the environment, avoid taxes, buy politicians and judges, strangle the budgets of educational institutions, bust unions and monopolize the news media. Let's take some responsibility here. The deterioration of the best that was the U.S. is the fault of its gullible, lazy, uninformed and now poorly educated citizenry.

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