Library Budget Update: Hours to Remain the Same

This article is from the July 2013 library e-newsletter.

Last month, the library faced the possibility of reducing hours to address a $500,000 budget gap. Fortunately, the library will now be able to maintain its current hours next fiscal year. The Champaign City Council approved a recommendation from city staff to provide $500,000 in revenue for the library.

However, the library’s budget gap is likely to grow even larger over the next several years. Expenses will continue to rise, but revenues—primarily from property tax—are expected to remain flat. The library is working now on a plan to address that growing deficit and maintain a balanced budget.

We appreciate everyone who expressed support for the library during the past month. And we appreciate your suggestions for ways to address our budget gap. Many were steps the library is already taking, but patrons may not be aware of.

Over the past few years, the library has made significant budget cuts, including leaving 14 positions vacant. We will continue to look for additional cuts and efficiencies. We also plan to boost revenue by increasing fees for overdue items and rental DVDs (details below).

Our library was designed to be very energy efficient. As summer approaches, it’s often suggested that we use less air conditioning. But air conditioning is essential for humidity control. An increase in humidity would damage our books and other materials.

Using volunteers was another frequent suggestion. Volunteers are already essential to our service. Our volunteer hours have grown 40% over the past few years, now topping 13,000 a year. There is no longer room to significantly expand our volunteer program.

We’ve also been working hard for many years to encourage private, long-term support for the library. Dependable public funding is essential for basic library services; private funding can add the margin of excellence. A combination of strong public and private funding is the best way to ensure that we’ll continue to have a great library for many years to come.