City Council takes a big step toward a library district

Last week, we posted asking you to voice your support to City Council for creating a library district.

Now, we have lift-off —and your voices helped to make it happen!

In Tuesday’s study session, a majority of Council agreed to move toward formation of the library district by resolution. An April 5 joint public hearing with Boulder County Commissioners is tentatively scheduled to vote on the resolution. The elected bodies’ next steps will be guided by the recommendations from the 12-member Library District Advisory Committee, which was reviewed by Council on Tuesday.

Strong support for moving forward was signaled by Council Members: Aaron Brockett, Rachel Friend, Matt Benjamin, Nicole Speer, Lauren Folkerts, Junie Joseph, and Tara Winer.

If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment to reach out and share your support for a library district with County Commissioners — who will be taking up the issue on Thursday. Commissioners are especially interested in hearing support for the library district from people living in the unincorporated County.

TAKE ACTION:

Use this link to email all Commissioners
or find individual Commissioner emails by clicking their names/photos)

(For talking points and writing tips, see below)

Among the issues raised Tuesday that still need to be worked out:

  • Formal boundaries of the library district (awaiting input from County Commission and final precincts drawn after redistricting).
  • Actual mill amount — 3.7 mills (raising ~$19M annually for a district) or 3.8 mills (raising ~$19.5M).
  • Whether the city should ‘convey’ library buildings to the new district, or enter into a long-term lease (99 years) with the district for a nominal amount (typically $1 per year).
  • Figuring out whether grants could be possible to limit near-term property-tax impacts on homeowners impacted by the Marshall Fire, seniors on fixed incomes and small businesses who rent commercial space.
  • Public-engagement around reallocation of City budget dollars freed up should the library district measure pass. Discussions on the table include asking Boulder voters whether to repeal or reallocate (for other purposes) the existing .333 mills currently dedicated to our library, and what categories of services and programs the roughly $10M freed up in the city general fund.

Much work remains to be done before the library district question is formally referred to voters, but Tuesday’s council study session was a significant milestone in our years-long effort.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT IN HELPING US GET THIS FAR!

 

Sincerely,
Juana Gomez and the Boulder Library Champions

---------------

Tips and Talking Points for Contacting Public Decisionmakers

Contact County Commissioners

If needed, use the talking points below for your email, but do customize them and use your own framing and words.

My name is ______ and I live in _______. [Share your personal Boulder (or any) library story, and what libraries mean to you]

I support a library district because... [pick 1-2 items from below! Keep it brief!]

  • the library cannot meet the communities needs and expectations without intentional investment.
  • the library system needs an adequate workforce to replace the 60+ jobs that were lost. It needs funding to expand hours and re-open the branches impacted by COVID-19 budget cuts.
  • the library needs funding to expand and grow into the communities that currently don't have access places like Gunbarrel and Niwot.
  • our library needs a long-term funding solution that isn't impacted so gravely by economic downturns.
  • a library district is a tried and true method sustainably funding outstanding libraries throughout Colorado. The majority of public libraries in the state have elected this form of governance. Communities as different as Pueblo and Fort Collins and Colorado Springs and Estes Park have decided that a district is the best way to govern and fund their library.
  • the library is a central part of city life, but also draws people from farther outside the city with its programs, events, and public space.
  • Boulder Public Library is among the most popular places downtown. It convenes cultural events, programs for people ages 1 and up. And it does this for free, because that is what public libraries do.
  • despite the drastic cuts as a result of the pandemic, which have been a culmination of decades of underfunding, the library continues to be a critical resource to our community, helping to provide free public remote Internet access, making digital resources and ebooks available online, and providing limited on-site services.
  • as we have seen with budget cuts to the planned North Boulder Library, thee existing setup will never deliver adequate funding to meet the city's net-zero goals, and fully staff that location or any of the other existing branches. What will we do the next time there is an emergency or economic downturn?
  • public libraries are important for kids with limited access to resources at home. We saw this during the pandemic, where some families in Boulder were unable to connect to virtual classes due to unreliable or lack of internet access. The Boulder library immediately got a grant and sent out over 400 wifi hotspots with unlimited data to these families at the beginning of the pandemic. This is an incredible under the radar story of community resilience that shows just how powerful a role our library plays in this community's social infrastructure.
  • Boulder library is one of the few safe and public spaces where community members can dialogue about issues of social justice like race, policing, and privilege.
  • the library has consistently offered programs that bring our community together to challenge, inform, and educate.

I urge County Commission to support the Library District Advisory Committee's recommendations and let the voters decide.