Denver Proposes Closing Branch, Cutting Back Hours
Carnegie library to be sold, but no layoffs
Lynn Blumenstein -- Library Journal, 09/14/2009
- Public, staff preferred no closures
- Big materials budget cut
- No staff layoffs
Denver Public Library (DPL), which primarily is funded by the city’s general fund, must reduce its 2010 budget by ten percent, or approximately $3 million, given a $120 million shortfall in that general fund.
To do so, the Denver Library Commission has voted to close one branch, reduce hours by 18 percent, and reduce the materials budget by 25 percent, according to a report in the Rocky Mountain Independent. DPL also has decided not to fill the equivalent of 6.5 FTE vacant positions out of 393 FTEs.
The mayor will be submitting his budget proposal, which includes DPL’s recommendations, to the city council on September 15. DPL should have an approved 2010 budget in November.
Budget cut particulars
DPL’s plans to cut total service hours to 836 from 1106, for a savings of $1.5 million. Four branches will reduce their weekly hours to 40, another 14 branches will be open only 32 hours weekly, and the central library will be closed Sundays.
DPL will save $604,000, according to the newspaper, by closing the Byers Branch. The 1918 Carnegie building is one of the system’s smallest at 4000 square feet and will be sold. It is the least visited facility, located near three others.
Staff, customers surveyed
Before making these decisions, however, DPL administrators sought public and staff opinions during a community meeting and via an online survey.
According to a DPL statement, they learned that 68 percent of the public and 49 percent of the staff preferred a system-wide reduction of hours versus branch closings. One commenter wrote, "It will be far easier to gradually restore services as the situation improves."
Library users also were asked about how to select a branch for service reductions or closings. Fifty six percent said that building usage was a very important factor, followed by location of libraries in neighborhoods with high concentrations of low-income children (43 percent), proximity to another branch (35 percent), and building limitations (eight percent).
Some 40 percent of staff and 22 percent of customers preferred a combination of reductions in hours and branch closures. Only nine percent of customers and staff preferred a scenario that included closing and selling seven branches. "Sales seem irreversible," one contributor wrote. "With reductions, you can restore all the branches if the budget improves again in the future, right?"DPL is in the middle of an ambitious branch renovation campaign funded by a $550 million bond package that includes funding for parks, streets, and more, approved by voters November 2007. Staff from three branches being renovated next year will be redeployed elsewhere, freeing up $400,000 in personnel costs.