Library district to play it safe

Posted 11/13/08

Every year, circulation increases in the Arapahoe County Library district, but even so, library officials are being cautious in preparing the …

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Library district to play it safe


Every year, circulation increases in the Arapahoe County Library district, but even so, library officials are being cautious in preparing the proposed 2009 budget — not knowing how long the economic downturn will last.

“Because the current state of our economy and the unknowns of the next few years, the Arapahoe Library District Board of Trustees has requested a budget proposal that does not utilize any of the ‘rainy day’ funds in the library district’s general balance,” said executive director Eloise May.

The 2009 budget balances revenue and expense at $23.5 million. This provides for a 2 percent increase in the total the district plans to spend for books, periodicals, movies and programs, according to Ted Fleagle, director of administration services.

“We’re not in a difficult situation but we’re looking at this with a conservative perspective,” he said.

The 2009 budget will increase 2 percent, $423,000, over 2008, Fleagle said.

The district’s funding is based on real estate property value. Fleagle said values have decreased but they’re not sure by how much.

“That’s a big unknown until April,” he said. “It may not have much of an effect on us as an organization, but we’re being cautious.”

There are no significant cuts or increases proposed in the budget, and Fleagle said patrons won’t notice anything different with the services.

“The district is looking to maximize resources in light of the current economy, as well as the recent election where voters were very conservative about tax increases — as demonstrated by election results for our neighboring library district,” said publicity specialist Michelle Cingrani.

Maximizing resources means moving the Glendale branch from leased space in Glendale Community Center to an owned facility nearing completion on Parker Road. The Southglenn branch will be moved from the corner of Dry Creek and University to a space in the Streets at Southglenn development, Fleagle said.

“It was a very difficult thing for [the Douglas County Library District] to ask for a tax increase during the worst economic times,” Fleagle said. “What we’re trying to do is be more cost effective and have more impact on the public using the same amount of money.”

As a result, Arapahoe Library District is keeping all staff, and normal business hours, unlike other districts, he said.

If anything, business at Arapahoe Libraries is running smoothly.

As of Nov. 10, the district has created more than 20,000 new accounts since Jan. 1, 2008, and has more than 200,000 existing patrons, keeping the Koelbel and Smoky Hill branches hopping.

In fact, all branches are hopping, Fleagle said.

“Those two libraries are our busiest but it’s important to keep in mind that even though not all [libraries] are as busy as Koelbel and Smoky Hill, Sheridan, Glendale and Kelver neighborhood libraries have a huge, positive impact in the communities they serve,” Fleagle said.

In light of economic struggles, Fleagle said the community is still using the free services and resources provided by the library.

“I would note that the great thing about libraries is our resources appeal to all ages and demographics — from teens who are researching school projects, seniors who enjoy the Interlibrary loan program, to moms who relish story time with their infants and toddlers,” he said. “All demonstrate the community center and value of the library.”

The Arapahoe Library District will have a public hearing on its proposed 2009 budget, at 7 p.m. Nov. 18 at Koelbel Library, 5955 S. Holly St.

The budget, which was recently submitted to the library district board of trustees for first review, is slated for adoption Dec. 10.


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