FY2014 Library Budget Presentation
With the help of 3 Library Trustees, we made the following presentation to the Allegany County Commissioners yesterday.
Remarks of John Taube, Director, Allegany County Library System
FY14 Budget presentation to Allegany County Commissioners, March 28, 2013
Thanks for having us in today to make our presentation
I would like to introduce the Trustees who came out today to show continued support for the communities we serve.
The recession over the last 5 years has been exciting and challenging for the library system. We have seen tremendous growth in the demand for library services and resources.
The chart on top, the growth in the number of items checked out is just one measure of growing demand.
Our traditional sources of funding that make up the bulk of our operating funds have been flat or reduced and they no longer keep pace with demand.
If we look at the Source of Operating funds graph
- The County is our largest provider of funds and has been steady at $905,000 for the past 5 years.
- The State is our second largest source of funds making up about 40% but that is getting chipped away as the state funding formula favors central Maryland counties and we are uniquely dependent on state funds.
- If you take a look at the green bands, you will note that we have had to pass on costs and raise Service fees in the form of higher overdue fees and fines for users. Up by 32% since FY2008 (it accounts almost 5%) fines and fees
- The purple band shows that we have become more dependent on aggressively seeking of grants now up to 3% (an increase of 200% since FY08) Grants are great for special projects but they cannot sustain our core business.
- Looking at the turquoise bands, you can see we have used transfers of internal funds and gifts to bridge the gap between the need and the funds. But as we look at the present and future, we can no longer draw on those funds as they are drying up.
- The orange band at the top shows that we have used up most of the “float” in our accounts so now our ability to carry a fund balance from year to year is minimized. Down 70% from where it was 5 years ago.
While state and county funds keep the doors open and allow us to maintain state minimums for collections and services, it is the supplemental funds that allow us to stretch to do more with less every day.
Those supplemental funds don’t add up to a great amount, but when they are combined with dedicated staff that milks every dime, they allow us to keep advancing library services in Allegany County.
In the last year, from Grant and Gift funds we have
- Installed study and tutoring rooms in 3 of our locations
- Created a county wide shared calendar site for events and programs
- Installed an online meeting room reservation systems where patrons can book their own meeting rooms
Through sheer determination and staff extra effort
- Created a mobile web site accessible from any mobile device
- Implemented a patron initiated inter- library loans system that doubled ILLs in the first 6 weeks.
- Switched print newsletter to a weekly email version
- Added text messaging as a means to get library notices
- Revamped our web site to be ADA compliant
The net result is in the last 5 years
- While library hours have been reduced 10%, circulation has increased by 22%
- While we have the same number of staff, we are answering 60% more questions
- While we mothballed the bookmobile, library event attendance has increased 21% (including the doubling of Summer Reading programs participants)
The staff that produces these results rightfully expect to be recognized and rewarded for their efforts.
We have recently lost 2 young and energetic staff members to libraries with comparable positions with better pay and better prospects for advancement.
So we took a looked at our wages in comparison to other libraries. I picked our neighboring counties, Washington and Garrett, but I also picked Somerset, Wicomico Counties, and Baltimore City because they are closest to us in state assessments of poverty as measured by per capita library funding. Also note that our figures are from FY13 and our peer group is from FY2008.
If you look at the Wage comparison chart, you see we do OK at attracting new hires such as Circulation Clerks. But as our staff gets seasoned and becomes more helpful to our customers, the Allegany County Library system becomes less attractive place to work as you can see. As someone progresses through the library ranks, they would be paid 22-42% more for the same job at neighboring and peer group libraries. A 20% difference is enough to make even the most dedicated staff member look around.
The 2 resignations were the type of employee we need to retain so we can keep advancing library service despite the economic realities of our community.
This year’s proposed budget seeks a 2% wage increase for staff while reducing expenses or holding steady in nearly every other budget line for a net increase in total expenses of only ½ a percent. Our request of 35,000 additional county dollars maintains the library’s focus on serving the local community with books, movies, computer classes, story hours, reading programs, resume workshops, and job hunting workshops. Using the figures from our FY2012 allocation, every Allegany county dollar returned $12.71 in service to the 3000 people we serve every day.
When you compare us to other libraries in the state we operate at 1/5 of statewide averages. We are not proposing to close that gap in one year; we are asking you to help us maintain our momentum and our assets despite 5 years of flat state and county funding.
The library’s enduring goals are
- Be a library that works for every citizen of Allegany county
- Be a library that provides resources to expand opportunities
- Be a library that supports a community that reaches its potential
In the coming years, we are looking to strengthen the fabric of the communities we serve by re-opening libraries on Sundays.
The only way to reach these goals is to start this year and support our staff, who help the community make use of the great resources and tools the library offers every day!
Thank you and I would be happy to answer any questions.