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


Looking at the budget, the personell expense accounts for about 80% of the annual budget. Perhaps the number of librarians could be reduced through attrition and instead lower paid "Attendants" could staff the libraries. As the number of librarians decreases there could be special librarian hours, similar to how most drugstores operate. 04/30/2011

For the past 2 years we have endured $2 million in budget cuts, and have already reduced the number of librarians across the system. As such, we do rely heavily on circulation clerks,
and hundreds of volunteers/docents to help meet the needs of our customers. In fact, in 2010 docents/volunteers contributed over 100,000 hours to DPL. And, due to the reduction in staff and service hours, many of the librarians already work at several branches, not just one.

Check out this site for all kinds of library statistics including budget and expenditures:

I can't agree more and have thought the same thing recently. I also know that I have a ton of books in my house that I would be happy to donate to the library if I knew they were needed.

I think the library needs to go back to its mission of increasing reading literacy and not buying DVDs, cds etc.

I have no idea if this is a very small item line in the budget but still I would like to see some effort to cut unecessary materials before closing branches or reducing hours.

Perhaps cutting DVD purchases from the material line would keep one more branch open.

I'd also like to see more Electronic editions (adobe Epub) purchased. I believe from personal experience that the turnaround time for these is faster than for hardcopies because they do not require you to physically go to a library to get them or pick them up. They are not as easy to read as a hardcopy, especially if you don't have an E-Reader but you can read them on any computer.bif

Have there ever been libraries that have had to resort to charging a per-item fee for checkout? Would this be something DPL would ever consider? Perhaps managing that would be more costly than it's worth. Perhaps even 25 cents per item per checkout period would help.
I have lived in a number of large cities and used library facilities in many, and I have to say DPL system is excellent from a customer standpoint. I would be sad to see branches close, but I can think of a couple of branches I used in the past that are close enough to Central where if a closure were to happen, had I still lived farther south, it would have only been a few more minutes trip on the bus to get to a different branch.
It IS good to hear that if hours at branches that remain open are increased, hopefully that would help employees keep jobs. That is the key here!
Out of curiosity, how many full and part-time employees does the DPL system have? How many people volunteer on a regular basis? Any thoughts yet on how many paid employees would be affected by closures (losing jobs or reduction in hours)?

One of the reasons the DPL is so popular is because it offers the same thing as Netflix and Blockbuster for free. Instead of serving as a free video store, maybe it would be more valuable to the community as a LIBRARY. With books. One of the most insane policies of the LIBRARY is getting rid of perfectly good books that have not checked out in a year, trimming the shelves down until they are half empty. Then they get rid of even more books to make way for DVDs that are available from numerous other sources and get stolen constantly.

I totally agree with selling all of the Hollywood garbage
at the next book sale. There are umpteen studies that show that watching a movie puts the brain in a hypnotic passive state as compared to an active one that comes from reading. Most of the people who use the library as a free video store will just rent more movies. Look up the word biblios sometime. I guarantee you it doesn't say a damned thing about music CDs or DVDs.

How will the library decide which are the 7-12 branches that may close?

In any possible closure scenarios, 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.

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