San Jose PL Could Lose 35% of Budget, Lay Off More than 100 Staff
Branches could remain open only three days a week
Lynn Blumenstein -- Library Journal, 03/10/2010
- Service point staff cut in half
- Two new branches would still open
- Branch Friends groups uniting for action
- Decision will be made in June
San Jose Public Library (SJPL), CA, the 2004 Gale/LJ Library of the Year, is the latest system facing drastic budget cuts.
If a worst-case scenario happens, SJPL would have to lay off between 88 and 110 FTE staffers out of 360, branches would be open only three days a week, and programming would be reduced by 50 percent at those locations. The Dr. Martin Luther King Library, a much lauded collaboration with San Jose State University, would reduce hours by 12 percent.
City deficit spurs cuts
Like most city departments (except police and fire), SJPL was asked to submit a FY10-11 budget reflecting a cut of 35.4 percent, in this case $9.4 million. The city is dealing with a $116 million deficit.
The fiscal year begins July 1 and there will be no chance for increased sales tax revenues by that date as no such measure has been placed on the June ballot, SJPL director Jane Light told LJ. Municipal unions were asked last November to make a five percent salary concession, but none have agreed yet.
How would these cuts affect library users? They would see half the amount of library staffers at service points, said Light. The King Library, SJPL’s busiest location, currently has four people at the reference desk during peak hours.
SJPL is in the midst of an ambitious $212 million capital expansion program, approved by voters in 2000. So far, 16 out of 20 branches have opened, with two more scheduled for this year. They will open, said Light, but will be subject to limited hours. Whether the remaining two open will be determined by the city manager, she said.
Depending on the final budget outcome, less stringent measures might be adopted by SJPL. Branches could remain open four days a week, with fewer layoffs, and staff assigned to work at more than one location. In any case, more aggressive fines will be implemented, said Light
The city manager will be making budget recommendations by May 3, followed by "study sessions" with each city department, said Light. These will be followed by public hearings, input from the mayor, and a vote by the city council (numbering ten plus the mayor). Final decisions should be made by mid-June.
What has been the community response? Each branch has a separate Friends group, said Light, and they all will meet this month to discuss a united effort. SJPL’s Foundation has been devoted to raising funds for the new branches, said Light.
While San Francisco has more established companies and foundations, fundraising in affluent San Jose is more of a challenge, perhaps because the technology companies located there are relatively young.