At the Budget Hearing and Annual Board Meeting on Thurs. May 20th, the Library Board of Trustees voted to reduce the library’s service hours for the summer. Beginning June 11th, the library will be open 1-5 on Sunday, 10-8 Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 10-6 on Friday, and 10-2 on Saturday. The library will be closed all day on Thursday. This reduction in hours is the result of a combination of falling revenue and rising operating costs.
Over the past few years, the library’s income from property taxes has been shrinking as property values fall. For the coming fiscal year estimated property tax income will equal about $334,000, down from a high of more than $356,000 in 2008. State Aid to libraries has been reduced year-over-year since 2000, with another 40% cut planned for in the next State budget. The Michigan Library Association calls it the perfect storm of funding cuts. Despite the fact that use of the library has grown, funding is shrinking and operating costs continue to rise.
The library will still be purchasing new materials, offering programs, and providing access to high-speed internet and public computers. As a participant in the TLN Shared Automation System, users will still be able to use the library’s on-line catalog to search for materials, check their account status, request materials be held for them, and borrow items from 40+ libraries across southeast Michigan. Sunday hours added in November of 2009 due to patron demand have been very popular — neither Staff nor the Board wanted to see Sunday hours removed.
As part of its decision, the Board plans to review service hours on a quarterly basis through the fiscal year. They will take a close look at the budget and use statistics in August to see if the cuts should be maintained, or whether service hours could be added back to the week.
This was a difficult decision to make. By trimming hours, the Board was able to save other vital aspects of library service. I will be working with the Board in the coming year to see if we can find other ways to make up for the loss in revenue so that we can restore service hours. If you would like to offer feedback, ideas, or suggestions, you may email me at email@example.com, or call 734-428-8045.