Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Strip Mall Site for Branch Would Require Drastic Cuts of Other Services

A resident recently asked me about the possibility of off-loading some collection or service to satellite facility that could be located in one of the vacant strip malls around town. Surely, the library could get space donated and then could run a branch?

This is an idea that the board of Trustees have investigated before - and will again. The concept of leasing rather than building an additional library facility as part of a revised referendum plan is under consideration by Library Board of Trustees. Over the next year, you will see and hear more about the reworking of the referendum and that planning process. Without additional funds, the Library’s budget today is insufficient to support a second facility unless major cuts are made to existing services. With demand for service outstripping income, plus an aging building that costs more to maintain every year, the cost of furnishing and stocking even a small strip mall space and the ongoing cost of rent, staffing and utilities are beyond our means. Checkouts increased 318% in the last ten years while the Library’s income increased only 161%. For now, the Library Board of Trustees is investing the Library’s limited funds in maintaining the existing building and making maximum use of the existing space. In the future, with funding from a referendum, a leased facility in a strip mall may be possible.

As for receiving a donated space, both the Library and Park District need more space, but so far there are no offers of donated space for either entity. Even if a benefactor gave us a furnished and stocked branch today, drastic cuts to existing services would have to be made in order to operate it.

Yes, the Library's budget is that tight. No, there is nothing left to cut that won't leave a community need unserved. Last year, I posted "Drafting the FY11 Budget" about the Library's budget freeze, despite a use increase of more than 20%. As always, the Library will make do within its means. But taking on something new can only happen if it comes with money to support it today and into the future.

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