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.
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.
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: