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


Thank you for your comment. I just wanted to clarify that staffing cuts in the past have been made to both public service and administrative staff. Any staff reduction scenarios to meet the 2012 budget targets will also include administrative positions, not just front-line/branch staff.
We don't want to close any branch locations, but if we do, the Library will look to minimize service gaps based on geography and will strive to make some library locations available in every quadrant of the city.

Amen, there has to be another way. Sell and close Cherry Creek library

While I understand the heated and emotional statement that this is... I have to sadly agree. It is a blatant disservice to the community as a whole to see the money flow and improvements to the already-really-nice Cherry Creek branch, while branches in "lesser" communities are left to rot and services/hours cut, or closed.

I understand that the money for the CC branch was part of a bond that was specifically for that Library, but this is just really a slap in the face. People, yes you people making the decisions, need to realize that the Public Libraries are for EVERYONE.

Please everyone, do not assume that the Cherry Creek library branch is just being used by people who already have lots of resources. I live in an apartment off East Colfax and I work in Cherry Creek, which is the branch library that I use most often. Whenever I visit the library there are many patrons who either work in the area, supporting the well-to-do businesses but not wealthy themselves, and/or people who don't have computers at home. I don't live in Cherry Creek but it's still my closest library.

Thank you for your comment. As you many know, in 2007, Denver voters approved the Better Denver Bond which provided the Library $56 million for necessary upgrades and improvements to existing library locations, and to build three new branches in areas currently underserved by DPL, Green Valley Ranch, Stapleton, and West Denver. By law, the money allocated by the bond can only be used for the purpose the voters intended and cannot be used to fund operations (materials or staffing costs).

The branches that were selected varied across all quadrants of the City, and were chosen based on the need for safety upgrades, ADA compliance enhancements and energy-efficiencies, technology (RFID) upgrades, and some interior improvements.
While some may believe Cherry-Creek did not need refurbishments, the renovations to this branch included the much-needed replacement of the 44-year-old boiler with a highly energy efficient, Energy Star rated boiler, and the modernization of other related plumbing and electrical systems. It also included the replacement of the fire detection and alarm system, the installation of the self-check out stations, and repairs to some of the interior finishes.

We absolutely agree with your statement that libraries are for everyone and a free and equitable public library system is at the core of our beliefs. We do not want to close any branches, but if we do, the Library will look to minimize service gaps based on geography and will strive to make some Library locations available in every quadrant of the City.

For more information about the Better Denver Bond:

For more info on all the branch renovations:

I love the library. Every branch, every item, every bit of it. I love the fact that Denver libraries carry DVDs and music CDs as well as books. The library is a resource for ALL sources of information, and who is to say that a DVD or magazine is somehow less valuable, informative or entertaining than a good book?

I'm on a very, very tight budget, and I still find room to donate at least $50 to the library every year, out of sheer gratefulness for the variety of materials, the helpful staff, and the amazing resources provided.

I would gladly -- GLADLY -- pay a fee to check out items, even on a volunteer basis. In fact, perhaps I'll start calculating my yearly donation based on exactly that. This month alone I'm sure I've checked out at least 100 items. If I average, say, 30 items a month, that's $90 a year, at $0.25 an item, and I suspect I probably average a great deal more than that. If the library were to discreetly offer a "suggested donation" on each library receipt, perhaps donations would increase.

I hate the budget cuts; I was disappointed when my local branch (the excellent Blair-Caldwell library on Welton) had to close on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and cut back hours on the other days.

The library is always full, every computer used, every chair filled, and feels like a community center. The staff is involved and friendly, the place is always clean and well-maintained and the shelves are stocked and orderly. It's a wonderful place and a great improvement to the area. If that branch were to close altogether, a light would go out in the Five Points neighborhood.

I have been a user of the DPL since about 1992. I have seen many changes to the system since that time. I can remember when DVDs were first available and took advantage of them through the Montbello PL. Recently, the GVR PL opened and it is amazing how many DVDs are available. However, is this really a necessary item in times of budget shortfalls. They have so many DVDs a GVR PL that they cannot even put them all on the display shelves. Several times I have seen DVDs listed in the catalog as available through the branch but had to ask for a librarian to get them from the storage area. In this time of budget shortages I feel that the first thing to be cut back should be the DVD collections. These are available through other places for a very reasonable charge. (Redbox, Netflix and others) I would also like to see the Children's Play Areas eliminated. These are more like a day care and should not be the responsibility of the Library.

The debate over content selection in libraries has continued for as long as the public library in America has existed.

I remember going to the library as a young adult and browsing the shelves of videos. I started checking out foreign films and fell in love with new cultures I had never knew existed. I believe that this formative experience of using the library is what led me to a life of travel and the vast network of friends I now consider family scattered around the world. At the library, one thing always leads to another and you never know where you'll end up!

I'd also like to ask those of you who believe that libraries should not carry DVDs, would you also eliminate non-fiction DVDs like home improvement topics or educational DVDs like elementary science, math or ESL? Who decides if Michael Moore's movies are fiction or non-fiction? The new Denver Mayor? The Governor? Your neighbor?

Libraries offer information in many ways for everyone without judgement. You can't put a price tag on that kind of Freedom.

"You can't put a price tag on that kind of Freedom."

Yes, perhaps, but the materials paid for out of the Public Purse all have price tags.

I can go to the library to research the budget for the City of Denver, but I can't go to the library to examine the budget for the Denver Public Library. Why is that?

Would the City Librarian please post the line items budgets for the library on this site? It would also be a kindness to make at least one paper copy of the library budget available at each of the branch libraries so that those who are not as comfortable with online resources can be included in the conversation.


You can find more infomation about our budget breakdown, # of employees, and changes
to our budget from 2003-2011 on our website:

It is also worth noting that we have decreased our materials budget, including DVDs,
by $500,000 over the past two years to meet the $3 million in overall reductions we
have had to absorb. One of the ways we have responded to this cut was to decrease the
number of DVDs and music CDs we are purchasing. We are able to get a discount on DVDs and don't pay the full price when they are first released. We base our decision to
purchase items on customer requests as everyone has a different standard for what
is of "critical value." In order to remain useful and relevant to our community,
we've developed collection development guidelines that respond to our customers while
striving to maintain a collection that is balanced and reflects the diversity of our

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