We’re a few months into the new fiscal year and I thought it would be a good time to check in.
All Arlington County departments took budget cuts for FY 2011:
- Arlington County, like almost every local government in the nation, faced and still faces serious revenue shortfalls. The budget was presented publicly and carefully reviewed by the County Board at time of adoption.
- Arlington has been and must continue to be fiscally strong in order to keep the library system one of the best into the future.
- FY 2011 adopted expenditure budget for Department of Libraries is $11.4 million – 7% decrease from previous budget.
- 17.5 FTEs were eliminated (6.2 permanent and 11.05 temporary), saving $670,582.
- Central Library reduced service hours by one hour Monday-Saturday; each branch library reduced by 1 service day/week, except Plaza Library, Glencarlyn and Cherrydale (service cut in latter two branches, FY 2010). Detention Center library staff hours cut by half.
- These cuts on top of service cuts in FY 2009 (4 hours/week) at Central Library. Programming reduced for all ages; less access to all Library facilities, including computers and meeting spaces/Central Library Auditorium.
- Library materials budget reduced by $17,604 (1.5 %), resulting in fewer: adult collection; children’s picture books; electronic databases; music CDs purchases. Popular paperback purchases eliminated.
Arlington’s library system is highly regarded in both the region and the nation and the department is making significant efforts to balance the cuts.
- The system remains accessible. In FY 2011, the system is open 384 hours per week. System service reductions total 61 hours (13.7%). The online “branch” is the second largest in the system, next to Central and is open 24/7.
- Emphasis on core library services: public-access computing, system-wide coordinated children’s programs and adult programs/computer classes, ESL groups, Books by Mail, Talking Books, reference service (in person, by chat and email and telephone)
- Targeting collection reductions based on demand and use patterns.
- Expanded 24/7 access to online collection content, including reference databases, eBooks, eAudiobooks. Expanded use of donated materials for collection replacements.
- Strategically focusing support from Friends of the Library to provide cutting-edge library programs and services including life-long-learning support and downloadables.
- Expanded self-serve processes, e.g., self-service checkout and Holds. Library staff working at more than one location during the week.
- Partnering with Arlington Public Schools to upgrade library system infrastructure for enhanced user functionality and technology cost-control.
- Despite a 13.7% cut in hours, the Library system gained 2.5% increase in circulation (July 2010 compared to July 2009).
- Despite a 25% cut in program events, the “Get Caught Reading” summer reading program for public school students increased participation by 52% (2007-2010).
Context is important.
- Arlington’s cuts are less extreme than in other area systems.
- City of Alexandria’s Beatley (Central) Library cut 6 service hours/week. Alexandria’s three branches lost 15 hours each/week, and the City fully funded steps (merit increases) and added a new step to the top of the salary range.
- Fairfax County system lost 9% of hours/week from FY 2010. Comparing FY 2011 to FY 2009, service hours are down 19%. For FY 2011, the materials budget cut by $1 million. The system also ended its virtual reference service.
- City of Falls Church eliminated Sunday hours (4 weekly) and cut its materials budget 6.5%. Local history room lost 12 hours per week
- Prince William County cut its materials budget $50,000.
- Arlington County’s compensation plan is behind others in the region, leaving us at significant risk of retaining staff. See full discussion (pdf) in FY 2011 budget book.
Thanks for supporting Arlington Public Library,