Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How much does a library cost?

From today's Oakland Press:
The Friends of the Troy Public Library drafted and have been campaigning for Proposal 1, which calls for a 10-year millage of 0.9885 mills that would generate about $4.28 million in revenue in the 2011-12 fiscal year. The citizen-initiated proposal petition was backed by over 300 signatures.
“We want to restore hours and programming,” said Rhonda Hendrickson, communications director of the Friends of the Troy Public Library. “We want it to open on Saturday again.”
The city of Troy cut the library’s budget from $3.66 million in the 2009-10 fiscal year to $2.26 million in 2010-11.
As a result, the library reduced its hours from 65 to 55 hours per week, made possible by a Saturday closure. The library also canceled most of its programming and laid off 11 of its 15 full-time employees and 29 of its 93 employees.
Since July 1, six part-time employees have left the library and have not been replaced.
“If we’re closing on July 1, who will want this job?” said Troy Public Library Director Cathy Russ.
The library has a separate collection budget that was cut from $775,000 in 2009-10 to $425,000 in 2010-11.
“The collection purchases have had to be focused on the most critical materials: support for K-12 curriculum, homework help, and popular materials,” Russ said. “The library isn’t able to purchase as many copies of the popular materials, so patrons have to wait longer for these materials to circulate.”
While the $4.28 million request is $2.02 million more the library’s current budget, Russ said, “When people ask me, ‘How much will it cost to run the library?’ my response always is, ‘What kind of library do you want?’ I think the best way to determine what kind of budget is needed to staff and operate a library of the Troy Public Library’s size is to compare it to comparable libraries in comparable communities, such as Rochester Hills, Novi, Canton, Sterling Heights, Clinton-Macomb townships, etc.”
According to Russ, the Rochester Hills Public Library currently operates on a $4.72 million budget. The 2009 budgets for libraries in neighboring communities include:
- Baldwin Public Library (Birmingham), $3.84 million
- Bloomfield Township Public Library, $6.27 million
- Clawson Public Library, $497,800
- Madison Heights Public Library, $656,256
- Sterling Heights Public Library, $2.8 million
 The Troy Public Library had a $4.33 million budget in 2007-08 and a $3.89 million budget in 2008-09.
And why would Proposal 1 raise so much more than this year's budget (which was slashed in both of the last two budgets)?
However, Proposal 1’s allotment for an independent library includes more than restoring hours, materials and programming. “There are legal fees, human resources, building maintenance and other costs that have been absorbed in other line items of the city budget,” Hendrickson said. “We need a reserve fund to repair the loading dock that’s falling apart and there’s flooding in the basement. There are issues with an aging building.” 

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