Issue Statement



FUNDING THE FUTURE OF JACKSONVILLE’S PUBLIC LIBRARIES

Should the Jacksonville Public Library system become funded independently from the City of Jacksonville?

Problem:
The Jacksonville Public Library system expanded the number of branch and regional facilities through the Better Jacksonville Plan, approved by voters in 2000.  However, the operational funding for the expanded system has declined significantly every year since 2005, and the Library’s resultant financial pressures have led to annual debates about closing branches, limiting hours, and restricting purchase of library materials. In 2010, the Library contracted for a Jacksonville Public Library Capacity Plan to examine options for sustainable library planning.  One recommendation was the development of independent funding for the library. The viability of this option in today’s political climate has not been adequately explored through broad community input.

Goal: 
To explore whether Jacksonville should implement an independent funding system for the Jacksonville Public Library, and if so, the preferred funding system(s) and the best way to implement that recommendation.

Parameters:
·         The process of learning and understanding the operational and financial issues of the Library will be broadly inclusive, with input provided from key stakeholders and citizens, including public agencies, library users and non-users, and promising practices from other communities.  The process will be open to the community and may result in a determination not to pursue an independent funding system. Should independent funding be the preferred option, the study will focus on specific actions and policies that could be implemented to address both the needs of the library and those of the community as a whole. 
·         Should the community determine not to pursue an independent funding system, payment by the Friends of the Jacksonville Public Library and the JPL Foundation will be pro-rated to reflect fewer community meetings.
·         The methodology will include a facilitated combination of research, study, and planning.
·         The geographic focus will be on Duval County.

Process:
The JCCI study will:
·         Review past, present, and anticipated funding trends for the Jacksonville Public Library system.
·         Examine the changing role and expected future of public libraries in Jacksonville.
·         Identify challenges in the present funding model for operating the Jacksonville Public Library system, including infrastructure needs, information technology, allocation of fines and fees, difficulties in external fundraising, and other funding issues.
·         Review library funding models in other Florida library systems, how and why these models were implemented, and their advantages and disadvantages.
·         Explore local community capacity and willingness to adopt an independent library funding model.
·         Recommend specific funding models and strategies for action for the Jacksonville Public Library system if the committee determines that an independent funding model is better for Jacksonville.