The budget outlook for the library remains bleak in 2011. As I wrote last year, the deepening recession and declining property values mean less money coming in to the library — 95% of our 2010 revenues come from taxes Canton property owners pay to support library programs, collections, and services — which means more cuts for the next several years.
In 2011, our budget will drop another $300,000, to $4.9 million, bringing our cumulative total cuts since 2008 to $1.6 million. $4.9 million is the size our budget was in 2004, when we served 15,000 fewer people, checked out 600,000 fewer items, and had 40% more staff.
With our budget cuts due to the recession — we've cut nearly 20%, or $1.2 million, from our budget since 2008 — we have held nearly all vacant positions open to save money. With fewer people working, but ever-increasing demand for materials (we hit a record of 2 million checkouts in 2009), we have struggled to keep up with all of the work that needs to be done. Many of you have experienced this when you return an item to the library and it takes us a day to clear your record. After holiday closures, it was not uncommon for us to need several days to catch up with all of the returns. We are only human, and simply reached a breaking point where our manual processes could not keep up.
Realizing that we were overwhelmed, a team of library staff who know and do the work examined how we do things and made suggestions for improvement. One of their suggestions was to install an automated checkin and sorting system (the conveyor system we are using is the same as/similar to conveyor and sorting systems used by UPS, USPS, Netflix, and Wal-Mart) that would let us devote more staff time to shelving and other patron services, such as retrieving and processing holds. These suggestions coincided with our need to upgrade our RFID inventory system, and last year we began the work of retagging all of our 300,000 materials with new RFID tags, eliminating nearly all of the locking cases that so many of you hated, and six months ago we launched new checkout, self-checkout, and processing equipment.
This past spring, our Copy Center services were distributed to other areas of the library, and the room converted for the new Sorting Room. New outside and inside return slots were installed, which feed directly into that space. The sorting system arrived this week, and today's launch of our new Sorting Room marks the end of this long journey. The majority of returns will be checked in and removed from your record automatically and pre-sorted into categories (bins). This means fewer hands have to touch items to get them back on the shelves. This, along with the other improvements made and suggested by our staff, means your library card record is more accurate, we will make fewer errors, and you'll see faster turn-around of items to the hold shelf or their home shelf location.
Check out our video for a demonstration, or stop by during our regular hours to look through the glass doors and see the sorting system in action.
These improvements were funded through the library's savings account and the generous donations of the Friends of the Library. We still have some kinks to work out — nicer signage for the new outside return slot, for example, among other things — and I thank you for your support, patience, and good humor while we work on fine-tuning our new system.
Eva M. Davis, Director
CPL has been blessed with supportive patrons and an excellent staff. We are proud to have one of our own singled out for the wonderful work she does with teenagers in our community. Please join me in congratulating Anna on this accomplishment!
In addition to thanking all of the veterans you know, join the community at the Village Theater at Cherry Hill, which will host a Salute to Service for all area veterans, their families, and supporters this evening at 7:00; doors open at 6:00. This event is sponsored by the Canton Veterans Memorial Association and Canton Township, and is free and open to the public. The Michigan Military Moms will also be on-site collecting items for service men and women who are currently serving our country overseas.
These necessary cuts are a result of several factors, which all fall under the umbrella of "the recession:"
Yesterday, the Michigan legislature's budget conference committee proposed another 40% cut to funding for joint library services, from $10 million to $6 million. A minimum funding level of $10 million is required to receive federal matching grant dollars of $5 million. These federal matching funds for MeLCat interlibrary loan and 25 MeL databases are at stake; due to the local economy and cuts to local funding associated with the recession, the Canton Public Library does not have the revenue to pay for interlibrary loan or online genealogical, historical, or reference products if the state legislature does not act to maintain statewide library services — Canton residents would lose access to these resources.
As you know from media reports, a tragic shooting occurred today outside of the library. We are thankful and relieved that library staff and patrons were not injured, and our hearts go out to the families of the two people who were involved. While the library is closed for the remainder of the day today, we will be open our regular hours on Wednesday. We thank all of you who have expressed concern about our well-being; it is a comfort to us all to have our community’s support. We also thank the Canton Township Public Safety Department for their quick and professional response to this emergency, and ask that any inquiries about their investigation be directed to them.
On September 10, library supporters will rally at the State Capitol in Lansing to encourage legislators to save the Library of Michigan and the important shared statewide resources, such as MeL databases and MeLCat interlibrary loan, that Canton Public Library users value. The rally will start at 9:30AM and supporters are asked to wear red shirts to show their support for statewide joint services.
The Governor's Executive Order dismantles the Department of History, Arts & Libraries and places the services of the Library of Michigan — both physical and online collections — in jeopardy. State funding and federal matching funds for MeLCat interlibrary loan and 25 MeL databases are at stake; due to the local economy and cuts to local funding associated with the recession, the Canton Public Library does not have the funds to pay for interlibrary loan or online genealogical, historical, or reference products if the state legislature does not act to maintain statewide library services — Canton residents would lose access to these resources.
The 2010 library budget process has begun, and the economic news continues to worsen. The library board of trustees, library administration, and library staff have so far focused on making cuts that have the least impact on our service to you, but as the recession deepens, the sad truth is that you will begin to see an erosion in library services.
In 2009, we reduced the library budget by 10%--a combination of falling property values and the vote by the board of trustees in August 2008 to voluntarily lower the library millage rate to reduce the burden on our economically-stressed taxpayers. In 2010, we are facing an additional cut of 6% to 10%. The total cuts over these two years will total more than $1 million from the library's 2008 budget of $6.4 million. We can no longer avoid making cuts that will affect your experience at the library.
This week is National Library Week, an annual celebration of the contributions of libraries and library workers to the fabric of community life. This year's theme is "Worlds Connect @ Your Library," and if you've been to CPL lately, you know that this is true! Use of the library has increased 13% compared to 2008, which saw increases of 11% over 2007. While the recession is hitting the library, too, we remain committed to excellent service, outstanding collections of books, music, movies, and games, nearly 150 computers, free wi-fi, wireless printing, and free programming for all ages from storytimes to craft programs to musical events to computer classes.
We are proud to offer the Canton community all of these services, and want to hear from you to help us plan for our future--what should we keep doing? What should we stop doing? What should we start doing? Come on in and visit us this week, get a Canton Public Library card, and discover your public library!