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


Joe, good question. Yes, we have looked into SCFD funding and unfortunately on their application it states that libraries are not eligible. (See Step 2:

Then it sounds like getting that law changed is in order. My intention was that part of the library budget get support from the broader community I bet that if you checked your statistics that various departments are in fact "destination" visit, such as a researcher in Western History, your photo collection, land title research etc., and the business community gets a benifit from the customers usage of the DPL resouces, sort of like Byer-Evans Manision provides to the local hot dog stand.

But all of the suburbs have their own library districts too so it evens out. There is only one Denver Zoo, Denver Museum of Science and Nature and so forth. The Denver Central Library does have a lot of 'unique' aspects but hard to set apart.

Seems pretty serious, but closing 7-12 branches is a little extreme. Figure out a different way...Or face the wrath of the Denver community

It IS very serious but let's not blame the library. We need to direct our frustration to those who can change this - our government.

Well, read the white paper. Instead of closing branches, what's *your* solution?

How much do the top execs at the library make? Lets start with them and probably have a ton of middle management that can go..Lay people off

I promise you, no one working at the library is getting rich. If you don't believe me, you can check yourself, the salaries of city workers are freely available public information. I am sure a librarian would be happy to help you research them. :)

DPL is already very short staffed, every department, and every branch is working with a skeleton crew. Staff numbers keep dwindling and dwindling while the libraries just just keep getting busier and busier. I believe DPL has lost around 15% of their staff in the last 5 or 6 years. There is literally no one left to cut. Libraries do not run themselves.

I totally agree with you that many(most?) cases, cutting middle management positions makes good sense. This is just not one of those cases. Would you get rid of the branch managers(1 per library, who make a whopping $50,000/year)? That is "middle management" at DPL.

The truth is there are areas where there are 3-4 libraries in a 5 mile radius. Some of them being tiny and underused. It is really sad to see any neighborhood libraries close, but it makes good financial sense to close some of those branches. Many branches are already closed 2-3 days a week which is very inefficient use of resources and a waste of our taxpayer dollars. If you read the linked whitepaper, it clearly explains why closing some branches makes the most fiscal sense.

I would love to see no libraries closed, but the fact is there are limits to "doing more with less" and after years of budget cuts, DPL has finally hit that wall. Without additional funding, something has to give.

If you want to see quality library services in Denver, please remember that if you ever see a dedicated library mill levy on your ballot. For a few dollars a month, you can ensure that your local library will stay open and can provide all the great services and materials we are used to and deserve. It takes money to run libraries, support yours!

Could the library rely on more volunteers to help the branches stay open? I know I have applied to volunteer a few times and I always get the generic "we'll contact you when we have an open position". I never knew a place that turned away people willing to work for free.

The library has a huge, amazing team of volunteers, in fact it could not run without them. To all of you who volunteer-THANK YOU SO MUCH!

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