That's what makes an article like this one from Scott Turow such a mood-lifter for the CPL family. Our featured author at our 2010 Everyone's Reading program, Mr. Turow spoke to a capacity crowd at the Village Theater last February, staying afterward to answer questions, autograph books, and talk to fans. Despite the bleak outlook for the next several years, we here at CPL will continue to strive for excellence in programs, collections, and services, meeting the needs of our community, as Mr. Turow outlines in his article, while maintaining a balanced budget and living within our means.
Governor Snyder released his budget proposal last week, and as expected, the news is grim. The cuts to public, school, and university libraries across the state are significant, and will affect the services that CPL will be able to provide to our community — namely, interlibrary loan and research databases.
The Governor has proposed cutting state aid to libraries to $3 million. The statutorily-required funding is $15 million. The current funding level of $5 million automatically qualifies the state to receive a federal matching grant of $5 million, which pays for MeLCat (statewide interlibrary loan) and the Michigan eLibrary (MeL — statewide research databases). Cutting state aid results in a cut to, and possibly a loss of, the matching grant, which puts MeL and MeLCat in jeopardy.
MeL and MeLCat exemplify the resource-sharing, aggregation of services, eliminating duplication of effort, and economies of scale that the Governor has emphasized over and over. More than 300 libraries — public libraries, K-12 libraries, and university libraries — pool this funding to provide services to Michigan residents. The $5 million investment by the state nets a $5 million matching grant, and saves taxpayers nearly $72 million annually, when you consider the cost to each library if they had to purchase these same resources on their own.
At its September Budget Hearing, the Library Board of Trustees approved the library's 2011 budget (attached, with a comparison to our 2008 budget, which was our last budget before the recession hit), levying a millage rate of 1.5437 mills to generate total revenue of $4.9 million. This is a reduction of about $300,000 compared to our 2010 budget, and a reduction of about $1.6 million compared to our 2008 budget.
$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. It is ironic that these library cuts come at a time when our community needs us now more than ever to help you cope with the down economy. In 2011, further cuts have been made to nearly all line items, notably staffing, materials, supplies, and programming.
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.