Economic Downturn Creates Budget Shortfalls

Posted on Monday 5 January 2009

We all know the economy is hurting and that the effects of the economic downturn will be felt by all of us. Library funding is certainly no different. The Westerville Public Library will experience an 8% reduction in state revenue in 2009. Our philosophy is that we are all in this together and the library is doing its part by drastically curtailing our expenses without making cuts in programs and services.

I want to take this opportunity to let our community know how the library will address the budget reductions.

First, the library will have no increases in personnel costs for 2009. While current staff will receive a modest 2% pay increase, the library has instituted a hiring freeze for 2009. Currently, there are four vacant positions that will not be filled. Additional vacancies throughout the year will reduce personnel costs even more.

Secondly, the costs of purchasing library materials have been returned to 2007 levels. Also, all capital projects and repairs have been placed on hold until the economic climate improves.

However, while we have dramatically reduced our expenses, budget cuts alone are not enough. We must also enhance library revenues. So, the Library Board is asking for your help! Effective January 15, 2009, library fines will be increased to match those of other area libraries. Overdue fines for books, cds, etc. will increase from 10 cents per day to 20 cents per day. Overdue fines for DVD’s will increase from $1.00 per day to $1.25 per day.

Additionally, the maximum for fines and fees has been reduced from $5.00 to only $1.00. We are asking our customers to bring their library accounts up-to-date so that additional reductions will not be needed. We certainly understand the inconvenience of some of these initiatives and ask for your understanding and support as we move forward in this difficult economic climate with what we hope will be temporary measures. With your help, we will continue to provide the very best programs and services possible.

Thank you for your continuing support!

Don W. Barlow


4 Comments for 'Economic Downturn Creates Budget Shortfalls'

    Robert Perry
    January 10, 2009 | 12:02 pm

    I understand that the economy is forcing everyone to consider newer more cost -effecive means to maintin the current level of services, and I accept that library fines should and need to be increased for those who conciously or unconsciously return items late, but is anything being done to ensure that those that do follow policies and return items on-time are not continually subjected to late fees simply because the items are not checked in appropriately? If this were a one-time issue, I wouldn’t mention it, but it continually happens and it does not seem to matter whether I drop off at the window, or whether I return books inside. If it were in the outside box, I might understand due to the last pickup being done at closing time, but even when I take the time to walk into the library and place it in the return box? Logic says that it could not have been returned late because that drop off closes when the library closes. Now I am concerned that with the lowering of the maximum fees to $1.00, when someone at the library there does not check in my DVD on-time, my privileges will be suspended until I take the time to straighten this out. That is my chief concern with this new policy; it does not allow for continued privileges while there is a dispute. I use the library frequently with my family and we consistently wait for long periods of time to access certain materials. Suspension of privileges adversely affect those waits and sometimes even cancel a hold when it happens to come consequently with a suspension of privileges. I see this now becoming a more frequent event with the new fine maximum.

    Janice Wise
    January 10, 2009 | 9:40 pm

    I have no problem with increasing the fines for overdue materials. However I do have a problem with reducing the maximum from $5 to $1. While I have never come close to the max, it is often very inconvenient to go inside to pick up reserved materials and I most frequently use the drive-thru. Since the amount of fine is doubling, consideration of a $3 max seems extremely reasonable to me!

    Kathy Bonham
    June 11, 2009 | 6:44 pm

    The primary focus of a library should be providing books for people who want to read them. If there is a great deal of money left over after that is done, then I can see the benefit of providing other media such as computer labs, etc. As a taxpayer, however, I have to admit that I sometimes question whether I want to pay for free movies, free software, free to be checked out laptops, free MP3 players, free game rooms, and free music CDs to the entire community, especially when there seems to be a shortage of books. It seems as though the library has now become a very fancy and wonderful community center, which I guess I don’t begrudge anyone, but when I try to find books, aside from what I request online, the shelves (particularly the ones downstairs in the “new books” area, are virtually empty. I hope that “budget shortfalls” will not cause the Westerville Library to have even fewer books than it has now….

    Sam Harnish
    June 19, 2009 | 11:40 am

    I agree with Mr. Perry’s comments. I have a book I returned on time and have already been fined $2 because it is lost in the system and I have been deemed late. I renewed it even though I turned it in just so I coud stop the late charges. Although I have been promised a search is being done, meantime the book is still on my account and I have had to renew a second time. If the library says it is lost I wil lbuy a new one but hopefully the fine will go to the replacement cost. Thanks for the opportunity to express my concern.

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