Library Board Votes to Preserve Services

The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library Board of Trustees approved its 2012 budget for publication at its meeting on July 21, and the public hearing will be held on August 11, at 5:30 pm, in Marvin Auditorium 101C. (Proposed 2012 Budget pdf)

Trustees focused on preserving collections, programs and services. The total budget for FY2012 will be $20,411,232 which includes operations, employee benefits, the debt service on the building, and the fund balance necessary to cover expenses in early FY2013. Increases in expenses include fixed costs such as employee health insurance and retirement. It also restores the library’s acquisition budget to the minimum level needed to meet standards set for state library system accreditation. It is an estimated .65 mil increase over FY2011, and the first board approved increase in tax dollars in the last three years. This means a homeowner with a $100,000 house will pay an additional $7.50 per year.

The return on the increase will be significant. Library customers will see more new books, movies and eBooks, more programs, and improved WIFI for mobile devices. Library members will also receive regular updates on programs and events. Check out of materials will be quicker and easier with the addition of more self-check machines, located conveniently throughout the library.

Over the past three years to address revenue shortfalls, the library has reduced staff by 6 percent, cut the book and materials budget by 55 percent and reduced funding for programs like story time by 80 percent. The library also sought funding from other sources including Friends of the Library and The Library Foundation, as well as user fees and discontinued the free mailing of books and other materials.

Every attempt has been made to mitigate the effect of budget reductions on library customers, but that is no longer possible. Library customers have experienced reduced selection of books and longer wait times for popular titles. Their inability to find what they need to read, for research and for school assignments, has resulted in a 6 percent decline in circulation after several years of increasing usage.

“The library’s mission says it all: Your place. Stories you want. Information you need. Connections you seek,” explained Board Chairman Dan Guenther. “3000 people a day use their library or bookmobile, reading to learn, improve their lives and be part of the community. People who are trying to stretch their own budgets are relying on their library more than ever.”

Every 5.6 seconds, a library customer finds what he or she needs and takes it home. The library has 95,000 registered members throughout Topeka and Shawnee County. 635 books, films and other items check out every hour of the 78 hours a week the library is open. This summer, more than 5,500 children are improving their reading skills and getting ready for school by participating in the library’s summer reading program.

The 2012 budget is scheduled to be published in the Topeka Capital-Journal July 27.

  • wu3mom

    Thanks so much for your wonderful services and outreach programs. The Red Carpet and Bookmobile are really essential for all of us who have difficulty getting to the main Library. Keep up the great work!! Our grandchildren really love the Adventure Mobile and look forward to its visits.

  • David Lee King

    You are welcome!

  • Rob Ramcharan

    The problem is not the nominal increase in the mill levy. The problem is that the library is adding programs and raising the mill levy at a time when unemployment is hovering around 9% and people are being foreclosed out of their homes. The library board is out of touch to think that the citizens are sitting on an inexhaustible pile of money that they can just tap into any time they want to add some nice-to-have bells and whistles. Most of .the members of the Library Board seem to be retired or current civil service employees. As such, they are insulated from the economic pressures (unemployment, for instance)that affect the little people who actually have to pay for their perfect world.

    • http://www.tscpl.org Diana Friend

      Rob,

      Thank you for your comment on the library’s 2012 budget. I would like to provide you with a little more information about some of the points you have made in your post. The increase in the 2012 budget is not for “bells and whistles.” The two areas that will see increased expenditures are: fixed costs (health insurance), which the library does not control, and rebuilding the budget for books and other resources used by readers, students, entrepreneurs, job seekers and thousands of other people in the community. The library has 95,000 members and an average of 3,000 people use the library every day.

      At a time when the unemployed and the retired have needed the resources of the library the most, the funding available to purchase materials was cut in half. We are keenly aware of the economic pressures upon the citizens of our community. To meet that need, the library provides support to the unemployed with classes, programs and individual consultations that have helped build job skills, increase job knowledge and search for employment. One example is our computer training classes, which are and have been filled with people seeking new skills or to maintain their computer skills while looking for work. The library provides computers and Internet to those searching for jobs, taking online courses and filling out job applications. Many people use the library because they no longer can afford, or never could afford, to have a computer, Internet or reference materials in their home. If you would like to know more about the library and what resources it provides, I encourage you to listen to our annual report, which is online to save on printing costs.

      The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library Board of Trustees is made up of citizens who volunteer their time. In the future, bios of each trustee will be posted on our web site, but I would like to share a quick overview with you now since you have expressed an interest in their qualifications. The ten member board is comprised of three retirees with administrative experience. Of the others, one is a retired school teacher who is now a small business owner, one is a graduate student; one is a homemaker, one is a Shawnee County employee, and three are private sector employees.