Thank you to everyone who voted YES on ballot measure 2A, which "de-Bruces" the city's budget, and raises $68 million by allowing the city to keep revenue it already collects but currently has to refund, without raising tax rates or fees. The $68 million will be used to improve police and fire protection, repair city streets and increase library hours.
What you can expect at the Denver Public Library upon final approval of the 2013 budget:
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.
On Thursday, January 12 we hosted a breakfast with various City Officials and community leaders to discuss sustainable funding options for Denver Public Library. Speakers included: Kevin O'Connor, Library Commission President, Brendan Hanlon, City Budget Director, Eloise May, Executive Director, Arapahoe Library District, Jamie LaRue, Director, Douglas County Libraries, and finally, Mike King, DPL Friends Foundation.
The Denver Post recently wrote an article about how libraries need to reinvent themselves in the digital age titled: "Digital update for the public library" (12/7/11).
The article states “Libraries will look very different in the digital age, and they must," and also questions how DPL will remain relevant. We have a lot of data and many success stories to demonstrate our relevance. In the coming months as we engage the community to talk about our future and sustainable funding, these stories will be told.
In the meantime, here is the letter to the editor I submitted in response to the article (note, I was limited to about 150 words).
On Monday, November 14, the Denver City Council will vote to pass the City's 2012 budget. After much discussion and negotiation, we are anticipating that the Library's budget will essentially remain flat for 2012. If approved, we will have the same service levels as 2011 (outlined in my last blog post), and the new branch in Stapleton will be open 32 hours per week.
Also, you may have seen in the Denver Post recently that Mayor Hancock opposed Councilman Chris Herndon’s potential amendment to increase funding for the Denver Public Library in 2012 in order to support additional hours at branches that serve the poorer neighborhoods in Denver. At the November 7 City Council meeting, Councilman Herndon decided not to bring this amendment forward.
Today, Mayor Michael Hancock announced that the Denver Public Library will not have to close any branches, or further reduce service hours in 2012, which is great news for the short-term. However, we are still in dire need of a long-term sustainable funding solution to ensure the best-possible service to the Denver community.
The $32,104,500 budget proposed by Mayor Hancock would provide funding to maintain 2011 service levels: 18 of the 23 branches will be open four days (32 hours) a week; four branches will be open six days (48 hours) a week, and one branch will be open four days a week and a half day on Sunday (36 hours). The Central Library will be open 52 hours a week, with weekend hours from 1-5 p.m. In addition, the budget funds the new branch in Stapleton, at a service level of 32 hours per week.
Yesterday I met with Mayor Hancock to discuss the viability of putting a measure on the ballot in November 2011 for a dedicated mill levy or library district. We agreed that it is most advantageous if this decision was made after the City’s Structural Financial Task Force makes its city-wide recommendations addressing the budget shortfall, which will happen this fall.
Mayor Hancock is a strong supporter of Denver Public Library, and has expressed his sincere interest in pursuing a long-term sustainable funding solution. I am hopeful that either the dedicated mill levy or library district will be on the fall 2012 ballot, as part of a broader funding solution for the City. I look forward to discussing this with the Mayor, Library Commission, and the public in the coming months.
In a recent Denver Post article by Vincent Carroll, he states, “… does it really make sense to relieve the city's budget woes by creating a permanent funding stream for the one service whose customer base is facing potentially drastic erosion? Before any tax reaches the ballot, let someone make that case.”
As you can imagine, I have a very strong opinion about this. Libraries have been adapting to the world around them for the past century, and the surge of the digital age is no different. Libraries provide essential services to the public such as computer access and training, job-search assistance, literacy programs, and access to thousands of print and digital materials. They serve as the cornerstone of their community and are a key link in developing a knowledgeable, productive workforce and fostering economic development.
In May we will be celebrating two major milestones in Denver Public Library's history — the groundbreaking for the new branch library at Stapleton and the completed renovations of the Central Library.
I often find myself explaining how the Library has managed to renovate many of our locations, open a new branch at Green Valley Ranch, and plans to build two more branches in Stapleton and in West Denver as we are facing the possibility of closing branches to meet our 2012 budget reduction target.