Today, July 11, Denver City Librarian Michelle Jeske asked Denver City Council Members to place a question on the November 2022 ballot to increase Denver Public Library’s (DPL) funding in order to meet the demands of a growing and changing Denver.
“The Denver Public Library system is the most visited cultural institution in Denver with four million in-person visits in 2019, but we are also underfunded compared to other libraries locally and among our peers nationwide per capita. After conducting 63 community meetings with more than 500 community members, DPL created a new strategic roadmap that focuses on what our growing and changing community needs - now we need to fund that community-developed plan,” urged Michelle Jeske, City Librarian.
In 2021, the Denver Public Library Friends Foundation formed a diverse community taskforce with 22 people from across Denver to take on the challenge of finding sustainable funding solutions for the Library. The taskforce unanimously recommended asking voters to approve a new dedicated tax for DPL.
“We asked our community what they wanted, we created a plan for how to make the world class library our community envisioned and now we want to ask the voters if they will help fund that plan,” continued Jeske.
At the Denver City Council Budget & Policy Committee meeting Jeske requested that Denver City Council place a 1.5 mill property tax TABOR question on the November 2022 ballot. 1.5 mills will raise $31.6 million annually based on 2021 property assessments for the Library and would cost the average Denver homeowner $4.19 a month.
Jeske highlighted a few examples of what this could mean for Denver, “An extra $30 million dollars would allow us to invest in our communities, our people and our spaces. We would be able to make sure our employees are no longer being paid below market wages, better provide technology for those who lack access or devices, expand and diversify our collections and our programing for children, youth, older adults, communities of color and vulnerable groups like immigrants and refugees, and open our libraries on nights and weekends to better support working people and students.” As one of the few places in the city where all people, from all walks of life, are welcome to come free of charge, the library is a vital community resource and this investment will ensure it can continue to meet the needs of a growing, changing Denver.
The Denver City Council will now take Denver Public Library’s request under consideration and would need to pass an ordinance before September for a question to be placed on the November 2022 ballot.
For additional information:
Memo summarizing the work done to date
Denver Public Library’s Strategic Roadmap & Action Plan
DPL Sustainable Funding Task Force Final Report
DPL Polling Summary Memo
Learn more about the library here