Wednesday, February 29, 2012

After BJP

The upcoming Check It Out: Independent Library Funding study will examine: Should the Jacksonville Public Library system become funded independently from the City of Jacksonville?

After the Better Jacksonville Plan

In the early 2000s Jacksonville residents voted to tax themselves in order to bring better roads, a larger ball field, improvements to parks AND more libraries. Everyone got what they wanted.

Since 2005 Jacksonville has six more library branches plus a new downtown Main Library. The square footage for Jacksonville’s public libraries doubled. The number of employees running our libraries increased. The money spent on DVDs, books, CDs, computers, and newspapers increased.

And so…more people are using the library. And more materials are being checked out. The increases in library services due to the Better Jacksonville Plan continued well past the 2008 financial collapse.

For some reason the increases stopped in 2010. Now JCCI is seeing a drop in library services. Jacksonville has fewer people going to the library, fewer materials being checked out, and fewer people going to programs. How come?

It’s not like people don’t love their libraries. When last year’s City budget negotiations were happening, library users were ready to fight. Jacksonville residents protested the proposed cuts to libraries last fall. (Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2011-09-13/story/library-lovers-protest-proposal-reduce-systems-budget#ixzz1nbHAHYLG)

Jacksonville loves its libraries. And that is one reason why the Better Jacksonville Plan was so successful: it promised us a City service in return for our tax dollars. So where is the library system now? Is it going to survive the Great Recession?

On March 2 JCCI hosts two people who have seen major changes in the Jacksonville Public Library, Joy Korman and Jim Selzer. They have been, and are, the Chairs of the Library’s Board of Trustees. They’ve met with City Council, the Mayor, library users, and they know what happened to Jacksonville’s libraries since 2005. They know the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to how the Better Jacksonville Plan shaped our libraries. And they know how we got to where we are right now—decreased hours, less money for books and materials, and less library staff.

Your neighborhood library is part of Jacksonville’s larger public library system, and it’s changing…Better Jacksonville change…Great Recession change…how will it affect you and your family?

Please join the study. Learn what is happening behind the scenes at your neighborhood library.

We meet every Friday from March 2 through June 1 at 11:30 a.m. at JCCI. Sign up online, or call us today at 396-3052 to participate.

This 12-week study is being chaired by Jim Stevenson, Vice President of Florida State College at Jacksonville’s Military, Public Safety and Security Division and JCCI Board Member, and Walt Bussells, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for GreenPointe Holdings, LLC. Proudly supported by JCCI donors, the Jacksonville Public Library Foundation and the Friends of the Jacksonville Public Library Inc.

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