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.