The Board of Library Trustees and the library administration appreciate Mayor Alvin Brown including the Jacksonville Public Library in his proposed budget, which he presented to the City Council July 14. In his remarks, the mayor publicly recognized our libraries as “vital educational institutions in the community—serving people of all ages, from all walks of life and from all across the city.”
We are grateful that some of the items in the board’s Fund the Future proposal and three Capital Improvement Program projects for FY 2015 requested by the library were included in the mayor’s budget. However, even with the mayor’s proposal to restore 10 additional hours weekly at the Main Library and add $500,000 to the library’s materials budget, the mayor’s proposal reflects a $2 million decrease in funding due to cuts in expenses not controlled by the library—our current budget is $33.6 million; the mayor’s proposed FY 2015 library budget is $31.7 million.
The Board of Library Trustees will ask the City Council not to cut the library’s budget again, but instead to approve level funding for the library—the same amount of money next year as the library has this year. In addition to the hours at the Main Library downtown, we would be able to provide 20 more hours weekly at the Regional Libraries, serving the community more equitably—a top priority for the board. Adding back 10 hours weekly at the Main Library only represents 4% of what was cut in FY 2013; adding back 20 hours weekly at the Regional Libraries returns a total of 37% of what was cut in FY 2013.
The board’s request will include:
• 20 additional hours weekly restored at the Regional Libraries, returning the Regional Libraries to the full complement of hours prior to major cuts in FY 2013. The additional hours at the Main Library included in the mayor’s budget would benefit a limited area of Jacksonville; the board is seeking more equitable service.
• A 24/7 library vending machine for the Northside. The mayor generously included a contribution of land in Sheffield Park for a future library site. However, funding for the design and construction of a library was not included. The library would like to install a 24/7 self-service library vending machine on that site to provide at least some level of library access to Northside residents and as a test of a future library site. Watch this video to see what a library vending machine looks like.
• Youth Services staff. To meet budget cuts in FY 2013, nine branches lost children’s librarian positions in FY 2013. With a growing emphasis on science and technology in youth education (STEM curriculum), we see a growing need to increase our Youth Services staff, specially trained in e-library technology and youth literacy.
Should the library receive funding for these items the board will then seek additional funding for the remaining Fund the Future items in the following order.
Maintain the Conference Center at the Main Library
• Transfer some salary and support costs to the General Fund. Cost: $72,422
Outsource Technology Support
• Move our servers to the “cloud.” Cost: $85,000
Enhance Staff Competencies
• Add a full time trainer to JPL staff and fund training and conference attendance for staff in support of active involvement in their profession. Cost : $116,362
Close Maxville Branch
• The mayor has publicly stated that the Maxville Branch will not be closed.
• Close the Maxville Branch as recommended in the Board of Library Trustees’ Capacity Plan. The location seriously underperforms all other locations and is an inefficient use of scarce resources. Cost to close the branch: $36,999. Net first year savings: $45,066; annual savings: $93,520.
The City Council Finance Committee will begin hearings on the budget August 6; the library’s hearing is scheduled for August 8. The City budget will be voted upon by the full city council on September 30. Throughout this process, we are likely to see changes between what the mayor has proposed and what the city council ultimately adopts as the final budget.
All council meetings offer an opportunity for public comment. Simply fill out a speaker’s card before the meeting begins and you will be allotted three minutes to speak directly to the council. You may also contact city council members via e-mail or phone. Contact information is available here.
Thank you for your ongoing support of your libraries!