FY2015 Budget Message to the Commissioners
Thank you for the opportunity to elaborate on our budget request. I am John Taube, Director of the Allegany County Library System and I am joined by Mrs. Dinah Searles, Rabbi Steve Sniderman, Mr. Tom Finan, and Mr. Bill Devlin of the Library Board of Trustees.
In our budget request for this year we are asking for $995,000 or an additional $55,000. We seek those additional funds to accomplish these 3 things:
1) to begin to re-establish Sunday hours at the library system, starting with the Frostburg location in 2015;
2) to bring our book budget back to where it was in 2010; and
3) To provide a 2% wage adjustment to library staff.
The cost of those initiatives do not total $55,000 but we are also dealing with a $10,000 decrease in state funding, and the depletion of several one-time sources of revenue. To continue to address the loss of state funding, you can see that the Library Board has allocated increases from its special accounts. The increase may appear modest but we have dipped heavily into the accounts that are not donor restricted since the economic downturn of 2008.
In regard to State funding, our mandated increases have been deferred since 2008. In this session of the General Assembly we have a bill reinstating the per capita funding of public libraries, and I am confident that it will pass and be signed by the Governor. This bill will increase per capita funding by a $1 in FY2016, I would prefer if the increase took effect this year, but since the per capita funding was last increased in 2008, this is progress.
Fiscal year 2013 and this year have been exciting ones in terms of usage and services. In the summer of 2013, we had over 10,000 people participates in our summer reading programs, we checked out over 560,000 items including 25,000 items downloaded directly to patron devices.
We also introduced the AlleBucks program. The AlleBucks program allows kids and teens to pay their overdue fines by reading. This way those kids without a way to raise their own money can still “pay down” their fines and borrow from the library again.
Within the libraries themselves, we have many new faces, within the last 2 years; half of our staff have retired or moved on to higher paying jobs. Because we have so many new faces, we recently held a meeting to re-affirm our core mission and values. It is gratifying to report that there was widespread agreement that our primary role is to deliver information and access to our community so that people can enrich their lives.
To deliver information and access is what we do and so that people can enrich their lives is why we do it.
Notably, that’s the motivation behind asking for an increase in funding; to open on Sundays in Frostburg is to be able to deliver information and access more hours of the week. And to increase our book budget back to the 2010 levels is to have more materials that will enrich people’s lives in Allegany County.
Furthermore, we are grateful for the recent developments at our South Cumberland Library. The additional county funding for the roof project can be used as a future match to leverage state funds on the renovation phase, so we can hopefully complete the renovation in 1 year instead of 3.
I want to share a short story that came out in our Core values and mission meeting that we now use as examples of our core values of excellent customer service and integrity. One day this past January when it was snowing again and schools were closed. Staff at George’s Creek Library looked at a weather forecast that said it was going to snow all day and they may have to close early. But they also noticed that most of their usual story hour kids were there now, so children’s librarian Debbie Hartman gathered the kids and did an impromptu story hour ahead of schedule for them. But later that evening the weather had abated and more library visitors arrived for the regularly scheduled story hour; Debbie repeated the program as scheduled and advertised so that no one would miss out.
So with that and in closing, the $995,000 will go to extending our reach as the largest source of books, movies, and music in the county and in delivering information and access to our community so people can enrich their lives.