Library Budget

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Re: Library Budget

Postby chancellor » Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:38 pm

Jeeze, hrodbert696, chill out. I can tell you right now that I am not a hypocrite regarding this issue. I do indeed love libraries, always have. But I despise inefficiency. So if what I observed at the library that day was indeed a slice of progress, then I can't wait for the computer solitaire tournament... when is that?

I do not purport to know the exact jobs of these librarians. I can confidently assert, however, that computer games are not on any job description at that library. Do I want people fired? Not necessarily, but shouldn't operational efficiencies be looked at. hrodbert696, budgeting is just business. It's lazy, non-creative leadership within any institution who lament budget cuts, because god forbid they need to figure out another way to get things done. I'm not sure we need half of the staff at the library, frankly. Why not institute a self-checkout system? That's a nice chunk of budget saved. Let's get rid of the newspapers and magazines section... a waste of revenue and space for advertising-based publications. And remove the movie/music sections, as they make no real sense anymore. Should be able to eliminate at least one acquisitions position with these cuts. Cut the hours and days open (surely someone has tracked foot-traffic over the years, and tailor them to actual demand.

While a library may be a house of art, it still must sit on a foundation of fiscal prudence.

PS... I read somewhere in this thread that our library employs 29 people. The Nashua Public library employs about 40, so I was told. Seems we may be out of proportion.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby TonyRichardson » Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:09 pm

First off- a Library is not an essential service, comparing a library budget to an essential service budget is an inapt comparison.

Police - essential service
Fire - essential service
DPW - road maintenance and especially winter plowing, essential
Library - not essential...a want not a need.

Hrobert696 to the things you raised.

Comparing library budget to other departments, the quintessential apples to oranges comparison

Your other points are theoretical, unproven and unprovable which also means unverifiable.

While it is nice to believe a library is producer of great things, it cannot be proven.
I like libraries too, but I have lower expectations of benefits produced by one.
Some people get a lot out of one, but it is a case of the minority within a minority.

Additionally, a good deal of what the library provides is duplicating services the school libraries are already providing for children in town.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby RBarnes » Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:12 am

There was one point made in the article that hasn't been discussed here that I'd like to bring up.

Dan argues that our library spending is not in line with other libraries. Now that's a fair statement but if a councilor makes such a statement then they owe it to the library patrons to back it up and show where the cuts can be made without impacting services.

Now we are a democracy form of government so 50%+1 vote is all it takes to either add or subtract spending regardless of what the other 50%-1 citizens want so if the majority want to cut they can just say they don't feel spending on the library is worth it and cut away but the council isn't arguing that. They are saying the library over spends so it's on them to show where.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby Pat McGrath » Tue Jan 18, 2011 4:40 pm

The Library Director and Library Trustees have done a considerable amount of research which was given on Monday evening 1/17/11 to the Town Council which demonstrates that the budget, the number of employees and circulation amongst other data is very comparable to other libraries.

It has to be kept in mind that the Merrimack Public Library has 145,000 visitors who borrow and return 291,000. You have 7 professional full time library employees --most of whom have Master's Degrees in Library Science; one administrative assistant and one full time maintenance person. None of them will get a raise

There are 20 part time hourly workers making as low as $7.81 per hour working less than 20 hours each per week --and entitled to no benefits such as health insurance or retirement who do an incredible job of assisting patrons in all sorts of ways. With the Library reducing hours of operation from 60 hours per week to 54 hours, each of them will lose one hour a week --and thus they get a decrease in pay.

Please contact the Library for further information and detail.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby hrodbert696 » Tue Jan 18, 2011 5:59 pm

chancellor wrote:I do not purport to know the exact jobs of these librarians. I can confidently assert, however, that computer games are not on any job description at that library.


Well, you say you saw what you say you saw. From what I've seen of the staff there, that they would spend hours playing solitaire seems a highly doubtful claim. If it were the case, I would have thought it was a matter better brought up with their supervisor than thrown about on a public forum. But that's just the way I would handle things.

It's lazy, non-creative leadership within any institution who lament budget cuts, because god forbid they need to figure out another way to get things done.


I don't think I've heard anyone at all claim there should be NO budget cuts, nor that the library should be immune to an assessment of its efficiency and the services it provides. What is at stake here is the scale of the cuts to be made -- the $50,000 proposed by the library itself, the $250,000 or more that is being discussed on town council, or (as I have suggested) a cut comparable to that of other departments like police and fire, which would fall in the $90-120,000 range. Some have been quite blunt about their wish to eliminate the library altogether, and I have tried to explain that libraries provide valuable services which benefit the whole community, even those who are not themselves library users, which in my view would make this a short-sighted and counter-productive step to take.

I'm not sure we need half of the staff at the library, frankly.

PS... I read somewhere in this thread that our library employs 29 people. The Nashua Public library employs about 40, so I was told. Seems we may be out of proportion.


These seem to belong together. As other posters have pointed out, 20 of those 29 are part-time workers, a number of them working rather minimal hours (some less than 10) on minimal wages. I don't know what the proportion of part-time to full-time staff is at Nashua, but obviously that's a relevant comparison if we're going to do apples-to-apples here. It may well be that fewer staff would improve efficiency, but that needs to be decided on a more detailed analysis of the services the library offers and the staff needed to offer them - not a casual observation that someone saw someone they thought were staff playing a computer game at work. Also, there are more ways than one to reduce staff, such as phasing out positions after their holders retire (which I would guess a number of the library staff are close to doing anyway).

Why not institute a self-checkout system? That's a nice chunk of budget saved.

Quite possibly. Worth looking into.

Let's get rid of the newspapers and magazines section... a waste of revenue and space for advertising-based publications. And remove the movie/music sections, as they make no real sense anymore. Should be able to eliminate at least one acquisitions position with these cuts.


I'm not sure I see the logic to these suggestions. That publications carry advertising is irrelevant to whether they are valuable to library patrons. Likewise for movies and music -- if they are circulating, apparently they do make sense to the people the library serves. If there is a section where circulation has dropped to nil, of course, then it no longer needs an acquisition budget, and presumably the floor space could go to some other use. I don't believe that the Merrimack library has any "acquisition positions," still less distinct positions handling acquisitions solely for periodicals or video. Acquisitions are handled by the librarians who head the respective departments.

Cut the hours and days open (surely someone has tracked foot-traffic over the years, and tailor them to actual demand.


The library has already cut hours. I don't believe there is any block of hours that the library is literally not used by anybody, but there are doubtless some times that are slower than others that could be cut. I would agree this is worth looking at, but I would not presume that cutting hours is an automatic necessity. Anyone who runs a retail business should know that there is often value in keeping your doors open at regular, predictable hours, even if that means being open for slow times. That way the patrons know when they can count on finding you open for business. If you get too draconian about cutting every slow hour out of your business schedule you end up with erratic hours that no one can remember, and then you lose your ability to serve your customers. This is part of what I meant in an earlier post about "viability."

While a library may be a house of art, it still must sit on a foundation of fiscal prudence.


I have an aunt who is known for hanging her used paper towels out to dry so that they can be reused, in the name of Yankee frugality. It is one thing to tighten one's belt in hard times to improve efficiency. It is another to make drastic, irresponsible slashes in a budget that would deprive the community of a valuable set of services. My theme throughout this discussion has been for reason, moderation, and prudence when making these decisions.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby TonyRichardson » Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:31 pm

Pat McGrath wrote:The Library Director and Library Trustees have done a considerable amount of research which was given on Monday evening 1/17/11 to the Town Council which demonstrates that the budget, the number of employees and circulation amongst other data is very comparable to other libraries.

It has to be kept in mind that the Merrimack Public Library has 145,000 visitors who borrow and return 291,000. You have 7 professional full time library employees --most of whom have Master's Degrees in Library Science; one administrative assistant and one full time maintenance person. None of them will get a raise

There are 20 part time hourly workers making as low as $7.81 per hour working less than 20 hours each per week --and entitled to no benefits such as health insurance or retirement who do an incredible job of assisting patrons in all sorts of ways. With the Library reducing hours of operation from 60 hours per week to 54 hours, each of them will lose one hour a week --and thus they get a decrease in pay.

Please contact the Library for further information and detail.


How many ACTUAL visitors?

That number does not represent 145,000 unique visitors.
The unique visitor number is a much more meaningful one.


It also sounds like the part timers could all be replaced with volunteers.
With no benefits in play they likely don't quality as employees under the RSAs and thus replaceable.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby hrodbert696 » Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:49 pm

TonyRichardson wrote:First off- a Library is not an essential service, comparing a library budget to an essential service budget is an inapt comparison.

Police - essential service
Fire - essential service
DPW - road maintenance and especially winter plowing, essential
Library - not essential...a want not a need.

Hrobert696 to the things you raised.

Comparing library budget to other departments, the quintessential apples to oranges comparison


I am not so ready to accept this black-and-white "essential/inessential" distinction. If you look at the long run of history, towns didn't used to have paid police departments or fire departments at all. In colonial times, for instance, you would have had a town watch which all the adult male citizens were obligated to do a shift on, without pay. There are still plenty of towns that rely on volunteer firefighters. The decision to start funding these kinds of things came from a consensus that they could be done better by professionals at the taxpayers' expense rather than leaving it up to amateurs and volunteers. We pay policemen because we prefer to protect our property and well-being with paid professionals rather than risking doing it ourselves with a gun in the house. And, of course, I feel that this is a very good choice to make.

So the real point in funding ANY town department is whether the services that department provides are worth the funds we spend on them. Theoretically we could leave citizens responsible to do all of it themselves -- protect their property from criminals, put out fires, plow the roads. But I don't think most of us want to live in a town that does so -- all of things are done infinitely better by well-funded professionals with proper facilities and equipment. The town would be a dreadfully worse place to live without them.

Library services, then, need to be brought under the same consideration -- are these services worth having in the first place, and are they done better by well-funded professionals or left to people to do themselves on an amateur or volunteer basis? Let me draw on a figure offered by another poster, assuming it's accurate, that the library circulates 291,000 items per year. Let's assume the average paperback book, CD, or video costs $10. Let's assume that maybe a third of that circulation figure is the same patron checking the same item out twice, just to reduce it to the nice tidy figure of 200,000 items circulation. That right there means that the library saves the people of this town two million dollars in items they would have had to buy themselves otherwise (and money that would have gone mostly to out-of-town businesses like amazon), on its 1.2 million dollar budget. That's just to point to something quantifiable.

You cannot quantify the benefits that a library brings in terms of literacy, in terms of building community identity, in terms of helping members of the community access information, pursue job-hunting research, and other benefits. There can be no serious doubt that all of these things go on, that the town is a better place for them, and that being a better place to live can only be a plus for everyone's property values (and therefore also the town's property tax assessments).

Are these things done better by paid professionals? Building, maintaining, and circulating a large media collection in a way that keeps all of its items available and accessible to the public is not a simple task. Devising and executing great community programs isn't either. I've seen any number of events thrown together by volunteers which have been utter disasters (and others, of course, which have been great successes) -- it's hit or miss. If a library is valuable to have at all, it is worth doing right so that the investment that has already been made in it by past generations doesn't go to waste.

Having said that, the library budget should not weigh equally with these other departments, precisely because they do benefit the town in ways that are more urgent and direct that the library's services. And, of course, it doesn't. Fire, highways, police each get five times the funding that the library does, wastewater gets triple and solid waste marginally more than the library. It seems to me these proportions are more or less as they should be. I'm hardly suggesting that the library should get a 400% budget increase to put it on an equal footing with police and fire! All I suggested is that the common-sense approach would be that all departments, insofar as is possible, make budget cuts in about the same proportion. Based on the police and fire budgets, that seems to be about 8-12%.

Your other points are theoretical, unproven and unprovable which also means unverifiable.

While it is nice to believe a library is producer of great things, it cannot be proven.
I like libraries too, but I have lower expectations of benefits produced by one.


Can one quantify and prove that the library has a specific impact on things like property values, or the quality of life in a community? Of course not. But there are things which cannot be quantified, yet everyone knows they are true. Ask a businessman about his advertising budget. Can he prove that his sales went up or down because of how much he spent on advertising? No, he can't. But then why is it that the most successful businesses saturate us with advertising while businesses that fail to get their name out go under? If anyone thinks about the well-being of a community as a whole, it should be plain as day that a strong library enhances that well-being, and therefore benefits the whole town.

Some people get a lot out of one, but it is a case of the minority within a minority.


I'm not sure what the one minority is supposed to be and then the minority of that. Doubtless a small minority of the town's residents actually call the police or fire to their homes in a given year. Does that mean that they do not benefit from the presence of these departments, that the departments should not be funded out of their tax revenues? Of course -- unlike police and fire -- it would be wonderful if more people in town would do more to take advantage of the direct benefits the library offers. But even without that, having a town of people who are better-informed, more literate, better socialized, more connected to the community as a whole, more attractive to potential new residents and businesses, these things do benefit everybody, even those who do not choose to visit the library themselves.

This argument is rather analogous to when people argue that they don't have kids, so they shouldn't have to pay taxes to fund the school district. My response to that is if they would enjoy living in a town full of young people with no education, no career opportunities, no future? Is that the youth population you want on your doorstep?

Additionally, a good deal of what the library provides is duplicating services the school libraries are already providing for children in town.


Common myth and completely untrue. First of all, only a fraction of the library's benefit is in its children's services -- though I stressed it in earlier posts because I have kids and have worked with kids and it's an area particularly close to me and where I know the most about what happens. But access to information is vital for adults too, both those with a need to do research of various kinds and those whom the library enables to pursue adult literacy, or job preparation or searching, and many other things. Secondly, even the children's department does not duplicate the work of the school libraries. School libraries do not serve pre-schoolers, whereas the public library does. Also, school libraries have to focus their limited budgets and staff on materials that relate to the curriculum, and are under other restrictions. The public library offers a much wider array of materials and programming. When a child has a research project to do for school, they often wind up finding the materials they need to complete it, not at their school library, but at the public library, in fact for just this reason. Public library children's departments and school libraries are complementary, not redundant.

Also, I know it's not your point, but I may as well respond here to the notion that the public library could me merged into the school libraries. I am just wondering if the people who proposed that are really happy about the idea of all those adults entering into the school building at whatever hours. I'm sure the police department would have a thought or two about that.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby hrodbert696 » Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:05 pm

TonyRichardson wrote:
Pat McGrath wrote:The Library Director and Library Trustees have done a considerable amount of research which was given on Monday evening 1/17/11 to the Town Council which demonstrates that the budget, the number of employees and circulation amongst other data is very comparable to other libraries.

It has to be kept in mind that the Merrimack Public Library has 145,000 visitors who borrow and return 291,000. You have 7 professional full time library employees --most of whom have Master's Degrees in Library Science; one administrative assistant and one full time maintenance person. None of them will get a raise

There are 20 part time hourly workers making as low as $7.81 per hour working less than 20 hours each per week --and entitled to no benefits such as health insurance or retirement who do an incredible job of assisting patrons in all sorts of ways. With the Library reducing hours of operation from 60 hours per week to 54 hours, each of them will lose one hour a week --and thus they get a decrease in pay.

Please contact the Library for further information and detail.


How many ACTUAL visitors?

That number does not represent 145,000 unique visitors.
The unique visitor number is a much more meaningful one.


Obviously it's not possible to count "unique" visitors. The library isn't a police state that tracks every single individual to walk in the door and how often they are there. It's a fair estimate that the average library patron visits about once a week, maybe twice. Some people are there everyday and some come by less often. Dividing the 145,000 figure by 52 weeks would mean something in the ballpark of 25,000-30,000 visitors, by 104 would mean 12,000-25,000. A few people may like to cluck that "nobody uses the library" but if these figures are anywhere near accurate, it looks like at least half the town is in there pretty regularly.


It also sounds like the part timers could all be replaced with volunteers.
With no benefits in play they likely don't quality as employees under the RSAs and thus replaceable.[/quote]
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Re: Library Budget

Postby Dennis King » Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:18 pm

Here is the solution:

FIRE EVERYONE

Then close the library (the kids all have school libraries) and put out an RFP to private industry to run the library on a budget of $500,000. Now they and get rid of the music and newspapers to start and being a private business, I have no problem with them installing a small coffee shop and for profit book store (give them a certain number of square feet say in that front room where they all read the papers).

The library is the perfect place to start privatizing. These people have done it to themselves and I have no sympathy for them. In the real world we loose our jobs to machines, we are expected to type our own reports and no longer have secretaries, soft ware engineers saw their jobs taken over by foreigners and those on H1B Visas; now they have learned to ask, "Ya want fries with that?"

Over priced salaries, over staffed and don't get me started on the pensions. The unions have had a strangle hold on us for too long, imagine if any of us taxpayers in the real world threatened our bosses if they wanted to let us go. These laws are designed to protect union workers who pay off the pols who make these laws, a cycle that must be broken.
Can you imagine what would happen to a private company that took 4 days to remove the snow in NYC? Think any of them would have jobs? There was a documented slow down strike and people died but will we see any criminal negligence cases? Of course not, the union thugs are protected. I am all for a fair shake for our town employees but when a certain town employee can leave a $120,000/year + job for an $130,000/year job in Mass and still receive a full pension, well something is wrong. He is a great person but retirement is for just that, a quarter of a million a year? really?

I did not name the person but those who figured it out, please do not disclose, it is not my intention to hurt a person I really admire but only to point out we can not go on paying 1.1 million for each person who retires.

I bet other towns will jump on the privatization bandwagon. Once you do it with one department, it is easy to do it in other places as well. My hope is that it never gets that far and the workers we have grown to respect will finally agree that they must accept benefits more in line with what the tax payers are getting. It is not only fair but also an economic reality. What was that about getting blood from a stone?

So that is it, close the library, let ALL the people go and lets see if we can get a private company interested in a long term lease on the space.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby TonyRichardson » Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:26 pm

hrodbert696 wrote:
TonyRichardson wrote:
Pat McGrath wrote:The Library Director and Library Trustees have done a considerable amount of research which was given on Monday evening 1/17/11 to the Town Council which demonstrates that the budget, the number of employees and circulation amongst other data is very comparable to other libraries.

It has to be kept in mind that the Merrimack Public Library has 145,000 visitors who borrow and return 291,000. You have 7 professional full time library employees --most of whom have Master's Degrees in Library Science; one administrative assistant and one full time maintenance person. None of them will get a raise

There are 20 part time hourly workers making as low as $7.81 per hour working less than 20 hours each per week --and entitled to no benefits such as health insurance or retirement who do an incredible job of assisting patrons in all sorts of ways. With the Library reducing hours of operation from 60 hours per week to 54 hours, each of them will lose one hour a week --and thus they get a decrease in pay.

Please contact the Library for further information and detail.


How many ACTUAL visitors?

That number does not represent 145,000 unique visitors.
The unique visitor number is a much more meaningful one.


Obviously it's not possible to count "unique" visitors. The library isn't a police state that tracks every single individual to walk in the door and how often they are there. It's a fair estimate that the average library patron visits about once a week, maybe twice. Some people are there everyday and some come by less often. Dividing the 145,000 figure by 52 weeks would mean something in the ballpark of 25,000-30,000 visitors, by 104 would mean 12,000-25,000. A few people may like to cluck that "nobody uses the library" but if these figures are anywhere near accurate, it looks like at least half the town is in there pretty regularly.


It also sounds like the part timers could all be replaced with volunteers.
With no benefits in play they likely don't quality as employees under the RSAs and thus replaceable.
[/quote]

Exactly my point, the number is meaningless. Just thrown out there to impress and presented as a large number for just that reason.

And while it may not be a "police state" to use your label, it is simplicity itself to see how many unique names the 291k items were checked out to, computers do have their uses.
Last edited by TonyRichardson on Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby TonyRichardson » Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:28 pm

hrodbert696 wrote:
TonyRichardson wrote:First off- a Library is not an essential service, comparing a library budget to an essential service budget is an inapt comparison.

Police - essential service
Fire - essential service
DPW - road maintenance and especially winter plowing, essential
Library - not essential...a want not a need.

Hrobert696 to the things you raised.

Comparing library budget to other departments, the quintessential apples to oranges comparison


I am not so ready to accept this black-and-white "essential/inessential" distinction. If you look at the long run of history, towns didn't used to have paid police departments or fire departments at all. In colonial times, for instance, you would have had a town watch which all the adult male citizens were obligated to do a shift on, without pay. There are still plenty of towns that rely on volunteer firefighters. The decision to start funding these kinds of things came from a consensus that they could be done better by professionals at the taxpayers' expense rather than leaving it up to amateurs and volunteers. We pay policemen because we prefer to protect our property and well-being with paid professionals rather than risking doing it ourselves with a gun in the house. And, of course, I feel that this is a very good choice to make.

So the real point in funding ANY town department is whether the services that department provides are worth the funds we spend on them. Theoretically we could leave citizens responsible to do all of it themselves -- protect their property from criminals, put out fires, plow the roads. But I don't think most of us want to live in a town that does so -- all of things are done infinitely better by well-funded professionals with proper facilities and equipment. The town would be a dreadfully worse place to live without them.

Library services, then, need to be brought under the same consideration -- are these services worth having in the first place, and are they done better by well-funded professionals or left to people to do themselves on an amateur or volunteer basis? Let me draw on a figure offered by another poster, assuming it's accurate, that the library circulates 291,000 items per year. Let's assume the average paperback book, CD, or video costs $10. Let's assume that maybe a third of that circulation figure is the same patron checking the same item out twice, just to reduce it to the nice tidy figure of 200,000 items circulation. That right there means that the library saves the people of this town two million dollars in items they would have had to buy themselves otherwise (and money that would have gone mostly to out-of-town businesses like amazon), on its 1.2 million dollar budget. That's just to point to something quantifiable.

You cannot quantify the benefits that a library brings in terms of literacy, in terms of building community identity, in terms of helping members of the community access information, pursue job-hunting research, and other benefits. There can be no serious doubt that all of these things go on, that the town is a better place for them, and that being a better place to live can only be a plus for everyone's property values (and therefore also the town's property tax assessments).

Are these things done better by paid professionals? Building, maintaining, and circulating a large media collection in a way that keeps all of its items available and accessible to the public is not a simple task. Devising and executing great community programs isn't either. I've seen any number of events thrown together by volunteers which have been utter disasters (and others, of course, which have been great successes) -- it's hit or miss. If a library is valuable to have at all, it is worth doing right so that the investment that has already been made in it by past generations doesn't go to waste.

Having said that, the library budget should not weigh equally with these other departments, precisely because they do benefit the town in ways that are more urgent and direct that the library's services. And, of course, it doesn't. Fire, highways, police each get five times the funding that the library does, wastewater gets triple and solid waste marginally more than the library. It seems to me these proportions are more or less as they should be. I'm hardly suggesting that the library should get a 400% budget increase to put it on an equal footing with police and fire! All I suggested is that the common-sense approach would be that all departments, insofar as is possible, make budget cuts in about the same proportion. Based on the police and fire budgets, that seems to be about 8-12%.

Your other points are theoretical, unproven and unprovable which also means unverifiable.

While it is nice to believe a library is producer of great things, it cannot be proven.
I like libraries too, but I have lower expectations of benefits produced by one.


Can one quantify and prove that the library has a specific impact on things like property values, or the quality of life in a community? Of course not. But there are things which cannot be quantified, yet everyone knows they are true. Ask a businessman about his advertising budget. Can he prove that his sales went up or down because of how much he spent on advertising? No, he can't. But then why is it that the most successful businesses saturate us with advertising while businesses that fail to get their name out go under? If anyone thinks about the well-being of a community as a whole, it should be plain as day that a strong library enhances that well-being, and therefore benefits the whole town.

Some people get a lot out of one, but it is a case of the minority within a minority.


I'm not sure what the one minority is supposed to be and then the minority of that. Doubtless a small minority of the town's residents actually call the police or fire to their homes in a given year. Does that mean that they do not benefit from the presence of these departments, that the departments should not be funded out of their tax revenues? Of course -- unlike police and fire -- it would be wonderful if more people in town would do more to take advantage of the direct benefits the library offers. But even without that, having a town of people who are better-informed, more literate, better socialized, more connected to the community as a whole, more attractive to potential new residents and businesses, these things do benefit everybody, even those who do not choose to visit the library themselves.

This argument is rather analogous to when people argue that they don't have kids, so they shouldn't have to pay taxes to fund the school district. My response to that is if they would enjoy living in a town full of young people with no education, no career opportunities, no future? Is that the youth population you want on your doorstep?

Additionally, a good deal of what the library provides is duplicating services the school libraries are already providing for children in town.


Common myth and completely untrue. First of all, only a fraction of the library's benefit is in its children's services -- though I stressed it in earlier posts because I have kids and have worked with kids and it's an area particularly close to me and where I know the most about what happens. But access to information is vital for adults too, both those with a need to do research of various kinds and those whom the library enables to pursue adult literacy, or job preparation or searching, and many other things. Secondly, even the children's department does not duplicate the work of the school libraries. School libraries do not serve pre-schoolers, whereas the public library does. Also, school libraries have to focus their limited budgets and staff on materials that relate to the curriculum, and are under other restrictions. The public library offers a much wider array of materials and programming. When a child has a research project to do for school, they often wind up finding the materials they need to complete it, not at their school library, but at the public library, in fact for just this reason. Public library children's departments and school libraries are complementary, not redundant.

Also, I know it's not your point, but I may as well respond here to the notion that the public library could me merged into the school libraries. I am just wondering if the people who proposed that are really happy about the idea of all those adults entering into the school building at whatever hours. I'm sure the police department would have a thought or two about that.


So exactly what is your position at the library?

You post as if you have some authority on the inner workings of libraries, what are your bona fides?
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Re: Library Budget

Postby Jeannine Stergios » Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:08 am

Ask a businessman about his advertising budget. Can he prove that his sales went up or down because of how much he spent on advertising?


Actually - yes you can. That's why they run marketing campaigns. I have done this myself and our business increases when we do additional advertising.

Let's assume the average paperback book, CD, or video costs $10. Let's assume that maybe a third of that circulation figure is the same patron checking the same item out twice, just to reduce it to the nice tidy figure of 200,000 items circulation. That right there means that the library saves the people of this town two million dollars in items they would have had to buy themselves otherwise (and money that would have gone mostly to out-of-town businesses like amazon), on its 1.2 million dollar budget. That's just to point to something quantifiable.


This statement is wrong on several levels. You are trying to convince us that "forcing" us to pay $1.2 million is a much better use of our money because you're saving us $2 million that we would spend on our own? I've lived in this town for over 10 years and have never felt the need to use the library. I buy the books and magazines I choose to read and read the newspapers online.

You refer to Yankee frugality. this isn't about that - it's about the need to reduce waste and unnecessary positions and services because we have no more money to give. People are losing their homes, many still can't find work. How can you justify 29 employees for a 60 hour work week? I still find it hard to believe that 50 people per hour visit that library. I drive by at least twice a day and the parking lot doesn't appear that crowded.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby Debra Huffman » Wed Jan 19, 2011 8:08 am

TonyRichardson wrote:So exactly what is your position at the library?

I ask forum readers to remember that the whole point of allowing anonymous posters is to allow people to post who would not otherwise be able to do so. We put up with the downside of having anons just so we can have this sort of discussion without someone fearing they will lose their job.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby MissyB » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:53 am

I am sure that hrodbert696 does work for the Library since the arguments they are using are exactly the same to the wording of the arguments used during the Library's budget session. But that is neither here nor there, and they have a right to post here as we all do.

The problem may be the number of full-time Master Degree personnel, RBarnes, to your point. Pat McGrath posted that we have 7 full-time employees, most of whom have Master's Degrees. Other libraries may not have as many with Master's Degrees, nor have to carry the expense of those salaries. That is what struck me at the Library's budget session.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby Dennis King » Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:04 am

Debra Huffman wrote:
TonyRichardson wrote:So exactly what is your position at the library?

I ask forum readers to remember that the whole point of allowing anonymous posters is to allow people to post who would not otherwise be able to do so. We put up with the downside of having anons just so we can have this sort of discussion without someone fearing they will lose their job.


I am not sure I buy into that Deb, We all saw the library staff promote their budget to the TC. What I see posted is similar to the arguments they made then (and just as flawed). Funny, there are laws which prohibit us from taking advantage of volunteers but there are also laws that prohibit them from speaking out? I do not get that as even a town employee has a right to their own opinion, the first amendment and all. Of course they also vote for their own raises which I am sure all the rest of us would love. I have long suggested we privatize and the library is the perfect place. So many of us do not use it anyway and the kids have the school libraries and the older adults have the Senior center. The town some years back voted to return the library capital reserve fund; that says a lot for where most of the taxpayers are on this issue.

Since the library staff have clearly threatened us if we try to use volunteers to take over the work of the patronage system they spent years building, then the simple solution is to close the library. Once that is done, I would recommend sending out inquiries to any company, profit or non profit to submit proposals for the space. We could charge them a dollar a year in rent and of course they would have to pay all insurance and utilities.

What would be the result: Say a B Dalton style bookstore selling and/or renting new and used books with kindle and MP3 download service along with a coffee shop and downstairs, a traditional free library to kids up to age 18. Now adults would now have pay a rental charge or purchase the books either new or used outright but I think this is a model that would work and most likely, would draw in far more traffic than the current model. The other advantage is if we have a for profit business, they would then pay taxes in addition to the rent.

I know it is hard to rethink the way we do things but the library is clearly in the last century. When you looked at their proposal for a new library, it was all based on reinforced concrete to hold up all the books, how ridiculous it that!. In a few years, all the books in the library of Congress will be on the kindle, think of all the wasted space. We could have those who do not have kindles purchase them at a rate based on their tax rates (sliding scale) and this could be part of the agreement with make with any business or non profit that wants to move in.This way, no stacks of books to rent, only new and used hard copies to buy and the rest, several monitors to look up the electronic book of choice and then a download for say a dollar a book.

I see this is all possible is we are willing to WORK WITH business owners. They will profit from the sale of new and used books as well as in coffee sales (no reason for profit newspapers and magazines can not be sold there too). We keep the children's library and get a state of the art media center. Oh, the best part, we save 1.1 million a year plus the 1.1 mil we would have to pay those full timers (I know it is not 29, but maybe 15, you do the math on that one)
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