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


I am saddened by the Denver Post article this morning and the news on this website regarding DPL facing $2.5 million in cuts.
The DPL was voted one of the top ten libraries in the U.S. in 2009, and 2005-2003. So, this possible reduction is disheartening for a wonderful library system.
It seems that most libraries in the U.S. are being asked to cut staff, cut services and hours. However, not everything is available electronically or on Google. People are using these libraries to find resources for employment, for educational purposes, for enjoyment, etc.
Colorado Springs has a library district and, according to users, is doing quite well. I would like this option to be pursued before the one of the three options is implemented.
If, however, the library needs to decide quickly on reductions, I would choose option 1 (keep all branches open, reduce each branch to 24 hours/week and Central to 40 hours/week.
Obviously, I do not like any of the options, but this way people across all geographic areas in the Denver County would have a library that is open (albeit reduced hours.)

I am ALL for a reduced materials budget. We don't need 80 copies of every DVD that comes in. If people have to wait longer for their holds, so be it. It's a small price to pay for enjoying something that's FREE!!! If they don't like having to wait, they go out and BUY it and put some SALES TAX back into the city! People rely too heavily on the library for their entertainment (not educational per se) needs, and unfortunaterly, it adds to the already crippled economy.

why not cut the worthless Denver public schools' mill levy and give it to the library. Denver teachers retire at a average fifty thousand dollar a year rate and that's absurd. Denver's teachers don't do anything useful and know absolutely nothing about educating children. Give the money to the libraries instead so those of us who have learned to be life-long learners can have access to library materials. Close all Denver public schools and turn the education of children over to private educators who must perform or not get paid.


Make a study how much money is needed to mantain EACH BRANCH OPEN SEPARATE.So UHILLS:to avoid shut it down we will need XY USD.
THen another :to avoid the closing of WARREN we will need YZ USD.
And so on. This will suggest to the users of that particular branch to
make monetary donations to reach the amount needed to maintain it open. If a particular Branch reaches that xy USD or that YZ USD amount then it will not close. And if a Branch does not reach that USD amount then it can be closed.
IN OTHER WORDS: let the USERS of the Library help avoiding the closing of their particular branch with their money.So when closing happens,everybody will know WHY their branch closed.
And the users of a Branch that got to the amount established, will have a reason to enjoy using THEIR branch: they paid for it.
We know that tax patyers money goes to all the branches, but this
suggestion will introduce the voluntary donation of Library patrons to
keep their particular branch open. As soon as donations come in, they
could be posted on the branch web page.
Now a second point that may be controversial and will have to change
the DPL rules on circulation:
The materials of a particulat branch will not leave that branch (no holds at all from other branches) AND can be checked out o nly using the DPL card from that branch.In other words doing this , only the
patrons that live in the zZIP CODES arround that branch, could borrow
materials from that branch. Other users from other areas, that do not live near this branch will not have the called "DPL BRANCH CARD" that
identify them as living in the area and than be able to borrow materials
in person showing that card. DOing this, the users of that particular branch will have materials to choose from, materials that were purchased by the DPL using their money. This will sound unfair to other DPL patrons that had their branch closed, and the DPL will not be even in the circulation regulations, but here we have to look it this way: if you gave money to keep YOUR branch open , ,and buy new materials that are shelved inside your branch, you should have more
priority in the usage of those materials and the computers at that particular branch that is open thanks to your donations.
I see it like a club membership.The problem is that tax payers that are not allowed to use that branch materials and computers will say:Why can I not use them if my tax USD were used too....
So as I said this second point is controversial.\
The first point however make sense: have the people from the area of a branch make donations to keep it open.Everybody could go there...
Regarless were they live as far as they have a DPL card.
But each branch should have a goal in USD to reach and stay open.
AND ALL THE PUBLIC SHOULD KNOW THIS; That means how much money IN DETAIL is needed to keep a particular branch open.

Hope we reach a point that the people will have more control of their
branch libraries,to stay open and which materials then want that par-
ticular branch to have and purchase.

Thank you for your time reading this.



@Hugo, that is deeply disturbing. I'm not sure if you are aware of the disparities that already exist between the various branches or not, but your proposal would make that even worse. A branch in a really nice area, like Cherry Creek, would end up with an excess, while one in a poor area would end up with less and less.

We do not need a public library system segregating what you can or cannot access based on where you happen to live. That is not what the public library is about.

Great idea. NOT!!! Am I reading this correctly that we should keep all the libraries in the neighborhoods with residents with higher incomes that can afford to make donations to keep their branches open. And punish those people that cannot contribute to their branches because they are validly concerned and struggling to pay basic living expenses. Then those people in neighborhoods with closed branches are expected to go to libraries in neighborhoods where they are not welcomed. Yes, because in actuality there are some branches that are not welcoming to everyone.

How about we get our elected officials to support ALL branches. Why did the library build branches in such close proximity to one another if they were not planning to support all locations.

I have been a patron of the Denver Public Library system since June 16th. 1996 a few months after I moved here and I am so sad by the hours that the library now maintains. I learned to use the Internet at the downtown library, I learned to read authors I never heard of at the downtown library and most importantly I learned how to be a person of respect there being I was a homeless bum in 1996.

As a child I would go to the Sussex County Library in New Jersey once a week and look up books in the card catalog so I am a lifetime patron. When I talk about books, reading or words in general I always talk about my love of the central library here in Denver like it is an old friend that I have had my whole life. I have been to other libraries all over the country but this is the one I love the most. One of my most thrilling moments was seeing the original scrolls of On The Road by Jack Kerouac a number of years ago on the fifth floor.

A few weeks ago I was so disheartened by the new hours on a Saturday but I understand if the money is not there the money just is not there. I think that our government needs to fund our libraries for a number of reasons but this is the most important one: Knowledge is power and that power should be free for all to explore, borrow and understand. I have written many blogs, speeches and Facebook updates about how important our library system is but alas they seem to always fall on deaf ears. I for one at the age of 39 would be crestfallen and crushed if the closures are permanent or if the Central Branch loses more hours. We as a city need to fight to keep the doors open and allow that knowledge to be freely sought. I will close on this statement "Who is the most dangerous person in America? Anyone with a library card."

I agree with you dude... open access to information. Everybody.

The loss of libraries would be catastrophic. It's time for Denver to step up to the special district funding for this incredible resource.

Has the library ever sought funding from the Scientific and Cultural District? Excuse me but you are part of that picture, so how come no funding. Besides you indirectly support the surrounding suburbs, just as the museums etc. do.

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