Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Roof Leaks and Old Books and Staff Cuts, Oh My!


Don’t mind that leak. Come inand browse the collection for the item you need—unless it’s a new release—and only if the library is open.

Twenty-one Jacksonville libraries are in need of repair. The Jacksonville Public Library waits in a queue for maintenance services, despite being charged back by the City ofJacksonville for these services.

Budget cuts continue, and so far they have led to 17 fewer full-time positions, and service hours have dropped from 1,154 hours per week in 2008 to1,130 hours in FY2012 (six libraries reducing their hours of operation). Acquisitions are also hit hard by thecuts. Can’t find a copy of the current bestseller? It may be because your branch could only purchase one—or maybe no—copy.

The “cutting the tail off the dog an inch at a time” situation begs the question: How relevant to the community can the Jacksonville Public Library remain if things continue as they are?

It’s not a matter of whether the City should afford to provideresidents with materials, because a free and public library is part of the City’s charter. And it’s not a matter of the library determining between what customers want and need. Whether it’s an early childhood education program in a low-income neighborhood, the latest DVD your friends are recommending, or the space for a civic group to meet, the library needs to be able to provide materials and services for the varied needs of the community, and materials, staff, and even roofs cost money.

Can the library remain relevant unless that money comes from a sustainable and reliable source? This remains to be seen, and this study seeks to answer whether or not a dedicated millage or an independent tax district may be such a source. Join us for lively discussion about this question.

Just a reminder: 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.

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