Phoenix Public Library Faces 21.4% Budget Cut; Six of 15 Branches Would Close
Police reps, facing first reductions, suggest deeper cuts to libraries
Norman Oder -- Library Journal, 02/02/2010
- 73.5 positions would be lost
- Public safety departments cut 11% to 14.1%
- Closing libraries has public safety impact, some say
Six of 15 Phoenix Public Library branches would be closed and 73.5 positions cut under what city officials call “extremely difficult” proposed cuts, which, for the first time, involve reductions in filled police officer and firefighter positions.
While the overall reductions proposed for the Public Safety Departments, including “credits” for efficiency and alternative funding solutions, range from 11.0% to 14.1%, other departments face reductions ranging from 15% to more than 30%. The library would be cut 21.4%, including 2.4% for efficiency savings.
[Update February 4: Library director Toni Garvey tells LJ that the City Council has lifted an exemption on a 2% food tax, which should yield about $50 million a year. The Council asked the City Manager to come back in a week with a recommendation on how that revenue should be allocated.]
Impact at PPL
At the main Burton Barr Library, five staffers would be laid off, reducing in-person and remote reference and other service assistance. Friday service would be cut at all branches, thus reducing 10.8 positions. And the six closed branches would mean that 57.7 positions would be lost.
The sixth-largest city in the country, at about 1.5 million, sprawling Phoenix already has relatively few library locations for a city of its size; the library would be challenged to find new ways to provide service to areas where branches were closed.
More pressure on libraries?
Interestingly enough, the police are fighting back with an advertisement argument that no public-safety jobs should be cut. "The bottom line is... I love the librarian, but I need the police officer," police union President Mark Spencer told Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini.
Montini asked Spencer, "Should EVERY librarian be cut before ANY police officer?" and got a yes answer. The columnist, however, suggested other tactics, like furloughs and pay cuts.
Indeed, commenters on his column agreed that closing libraries would be a blow to the community. One wrote, “The overwhelming portion of city budget cuts have previously bypassed the police and fire public safety budgets,” adding that libraries help create safer communities.