Collections Funding “stable” in proposed 2010 Library budget

The recession has caused the proposed 2010 budget to be downsized. On 5 Oct, Friends of The Seattle Public Library were in City Council chambers to hear The Seattle Public Library present its plans for coping with downward adjustments. City Council will now hold three public hearings for comment on all 2010 proposed budgets. They will then deliberate and adopt a budget on 23 November. You can view the library’s budget presentation online at Seattle Channel.  Select “council briefing Oct 5” and start watching at 83:00.

Some highlights: Council member Licata introduced The Library’s presentation by stating that the original 2010 budget for The Library was $52.7 million but the downward adjusted 2010 proposed budget allocates $50.1.   “A substantial cut,” he said.

Susan Hildreth, City Librarian, explained that “the good news in this budget is that materials is held stable at approx $6 million but we’re still not ideally where we’d like to be, which is $8 million.”  She said, “It’s a challenge to reduce library hours when demand is soaring.”  She said furloughs and closures are not sustainable but she hoped when the economy improved that the city-wide infrastructure taxpayers invested in would again be strongly funded.

Council member Burgess led questioning. “What was the public’s reaction to the furlough in Sept?”  If we wanted to restore some funding (to The Library) “which would you choose, a furlough or reduced branch hours?” “How do our library open hours compare” with other libraries of our size? The City Librarian said that, if The Library’s proposed budget is adopted, “Seattle would drop to a much lower level than that of our peer libraries.”

Council member Clark acknowledged all the practical needs libraries meet and continued to pursue the questioning about how “a partial restoration of funds might be used.”

Dwight Dively, Finance Director for the City of Seattle, said The Library’s proposed capital budget “is not sustainable.”

In conclusion, Council member Burgess invited library analysis on scenarios involving partial restoration of  funding and said, “Right now, I lean heavily toward addressing the reduction in hours.”

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