Longmont Library Board Calls on City Council to Increase Library Funding – Boulder Daily Camera

The Longmont Library Board has asked city council and city staff to increase the $ 4 million that the city administration recommended for the library in the overall budget of $ 389.55 million envisioned for 2022.

Speaking on behalf of the advisory board, President Mark Springfield said the Longmont Library “has always been underfunded” for a facility the size of a Longmont community.

This is despite Longmont community satisfaction surveys which generally show the library to be “one of the highest rated institutions in the community,” Springfield said during a public segment invited to be heard of the session. board study Tuesday night on a variety of aspects of the 2020 staff budget proposals.

The library, which is one of many municipal services whose expenses depend on the general fund of the overall budget and the taxes and fees collected to cover the expenses of the general fund, is on a “downward trend” for its part of this. general fund money since 2010, Springfield said. He said the library’s less than adequate funding levels during this period could be seen as “millions” collectively.

The 2022 overall budget proposal unveiled by city manager Harold Dominguez and finance staff in August would include $ 4,017,047 for the library, compared to $ 3,856,136 allocated to the library in the 2021 budget that the council initially adopted. last fall, an increase of about 4.2%.

Springfield said the five residents on the library board are unanimous in their opinion that the facility and its services have long been underfunded and that the board “strongly encourages” the council and city staff to reconsider the proposed funding. so far in the recommendations of the municipal administration. spending program for next year.

Although Springfield has not proposed a specific amount that the council might wish to add to the library’s budget for next year, it told council that the city should put the facility on the path to the “library” position. for the 21st century ”.

Springfield’s appeal drew sympathetic reactions from several council members on Tuesday night, but no motion was made to order city staff to increase library funding for 2020 at this point in time. examination by the council of staff budget proposals.

City Councilor Tim Waters, the council’s non-voting liaison to the library board, noted in an interview on Wednesday that a consultant is working on the second phase of a facility needs report and possible options for funding those needs that the advisory board and council should probably consider before discussing whether to increase library funding in 2022 and beyond, and if so, how to do it.

Library director Nancy Kerr said in an email Wednesday that the first phase of this study, completed last August by Kimberly Bolan and Associates, revealed that “the community highly values ​​the library for its resources and services “and that the library” does much more with less funding, staff, space and resources than its counterparts.

However, Krerr said the consultant’s executive summary of his findings included a conclusion that overall library funding “is insufficient and is having an impact on service and staff morale.” She said the consulting firm found that the facility “is already too small to adequately serve the community of Longmont, and Longmont’s rapid growth increases the need for more library space. Library funding and resources must be increased and at the very least brought down to the average relative to its peer communities.

The Longmont library is seen on Wednesday. The Library Advisory Board is requesting additional funding from the city for the library and the services it provides. (Matthew Jonas / Personal Photographer)

Staff reported to council last September that Bolan and Associates concluded that the Longmont Public Library “is too small to serve a community of this size, especially one that is growing.” The Indiana-based consulting firm said having a single location for its library – in this case the 300 block between Kimbark and Emery streets – “is somewhat unusual for a city of this size, unless let the only library not be very large, ”the city staff mentioned.

Longmont’s director of community services, Karen Roney, said last September that the current library building measures approximately 51,000 square feet, built for a population of up to 68,000. She said that using several formulas, the consultants estimated that the library should be between 80,000 and 85,000 square feet now and between 95,000 and 100,000 square feet as Longmont is built in. to come up.

Phase II of the feasibility study will include detailed financial modeling, addressing what it will take to provide Longmont library cardholders with a modern library, and different models to produce the funding needed to do so, reported the staff to the board, adding in a note that the proposed budget for 2022 is beginning to address some of the needs identified in Phase I of the study.

Kerr said Wednesday that Phase II has a different consultant, Anne Sieger of Sieger Consulting.

“The second phase of the study is currently updating the data to reflect the time between the first phase of the study and the present,” Kerr said. “Service level standards for things like physical space, size of collection, full-time equivalent staff positions, traffic, and so on. are being assessed to determine what a low, median or optimal level of service would look like in these categories compared to peer libraries, and financial modeling is used to calculate the costs and what different funding models might support these costs.

She said part of the study started later than expected due to COVID-related delays, but is expected to end before the end of the year.

Members of the public will have their first chance to officially vote on the 2022 municipal budget proposal next Tuesday evening, in a public hearing at the 7 p.m. council meeting in the Civic Center Council Chamber, 350 Kimbark St ., Longmont. The proposed budget and documents that staff presented at previous board meetings can be viewed at tinyurl.com/t4h8ebpx.

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