Joni Teter

Library nerd, Egyptophile, sustainability warrior.

Joni Teter's latest activity
published Poised to pass! in Blog 2022-11-11 14:35:32 -0700

Poised to pass!

Ballot returns continue to trend in our favor, with 51.91% of voters supporting the library district as of late Thursday night. With close to 90% of Boulder County ballots processed, our lead now stands at 2065 votes.

It's a healthy margin, and the trend has been in our favor since late Tuesday, but the race has not been called yet. There may be another 6000 votes in the district left to count, and the County Clerk will not release more results until Monday.

We'll be taking some time to recharge this weekend, and hope you can too. And we'll be back on Monday to watch those last votes come in! We're almost there, and a win for our libraries is worth the wait!

A Letter from Poudre River Library District Board President

When Fort Collins library champions went to voters in 2006 to form a library district, it was because ongoing city budget cuts were draining the library’s ability to meet growing community demand. Voters agreed, and the Poudre River Library District was formed in 2007. As president of the library’s Board of Trustees, I see the same story unfolding in Boulder.

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published Libraries and Seniors in Blog 2022-10-29 07:04:23 -0600

Libraries and Seniors

We know that property taxes can be a challenge for some seniors on fixed incomes, and we know how important the library is to seniors as a source of connection, community, and learning. 

Senior citizens are heavy users of library services, from book-borrowing to computer classes and events at the Canyon Theater. The library’s home delivery program serves seniors and those with mobility issues directly, so that they can access materials without needing to visit in-person.

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published Tackling myths about the library district, part I in Blog 2022-10-12 21:00:10 -0600

Tackling myths about the library district, part I

We are re-posting this piece because misinformation needs a response. Small-town politics can be daunting, because there’s often not enough platforms for sharing trust-worthy information about campaigns or issues. In this environment, myths circulate freely. We know not everyone will be on our side, but as critical thinkers - we’re library lovers, after all - we want you to have the background you need to make an informed decision when you vote.

With that in mind, here’s our response to some of the myths we’ve heard about the Boulder library ballot measure 6C (part I):


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published Tackling misinformation about Measure 6C, again in Blog 2022-10-10 21:12:50 -0600

Tackling misinformation about Measure 6C, again

As we move closer to voters weighing in on creation of a Boulder Public Library District, opponents of the measure, led by Boulder City Council Member Bob Yates, continue to share misleading, incorrect, and unsupported information - despite being provided ample evidence to refute their claims.

Tackling myths about the library district ballot issue 6C

This installment of our myth-busters blog series comes as a result of several easily debunked claims in Yates’ recent email newsletters. 

If you have questions about the claims being made both in favor or in opposition to the Library District proposal (Ballot Measure 6C), please email [email protected] and we will happily provide you with source materials and other information to support or debunk them. 

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published Yes on 6C: Here's what our supporters say in Blog 2022-09-29 21:46:13 -0600

Yes on 6C: Here's what the community says

We've had so much *library love* in the local papers these past few months, we wanted to share the ones from April - present here (for older letters and op eds, check out our In The News section). Here's what our wonderful, diverse, and thoughtful community of supporters say about why they're voting YES on ballot issue 6C to fund our libraries.

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published Daily Camera endorses ballot issue 6C in Blog 2022-09-25 07:02:44 -0600

Daily Camera endorses ballot issue 6C

Editorial: Libraries aren’t cheap, but they’re worth every penny, ‘yes’ on 6C

Appeared in the Daily Camera on Sunday, September 25

Over 100 years ago, Andrew Carnegie pledged $15,000 to help Boulder build its first public library. The grant, though, was conditional on the city — the people of Boulder — being willing to provide a sustainable operating budget and ensure the library prospered. Boulder, of course, came through. 

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published Guest opinion: Elise Jones and Ashley Stolzmann in Blog 2022-09-23 07:04:46 -0600

Guest opinion: Elise Jones and Ashley Stolzmann

This opinion was published in the Daily Camera on September 23, 2022.

By Ashley Stolzmann and Elise Jones

As current and former elected officials, we have seen firsthand how libraries provide essential services — from supporting early childhood literacy, to providing technology solutions at no cost to users, to serving as gathering places for people from all walks of life. They serve us quietly in good times, and serve as anchors when disaster strikes. We know our communities are stronger when they have strong libraries, and that is why we support the Boulder Library District.

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published Libraries in the news in Blog 2022-09-14 08:38:23 -0600

Libraries in the news

Libraries have been in the news lately, and not for their stellar community service and trusted stewardship of books and materials. Libraries have been in the news because they are currently under threat by waves of anti-democratic ideological groups that want to ban books and restrict access. 

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published Library Champion: The Boulder Library Foundation in Blog 2022-09-03 09:37:53 -0600

Showcase: The Boulder Library Foundation

Library "friends groups" and foundations are important, long-established support entities that exist across the country to directly advocate for and supplement funding for local libraries, when funding gaps exist. They can take gifts and bequests from members of the public who want to support their local libraries. 

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published What our endorsers say in Blog 2022-08-22 18:11:19 -0600

What our endorsers say

We're grateful for the support we've received for YES on 6C from community leaders, electeds, businesses, and organizations. Here's a running list of their statements in support of the library district. Stay tuned to this page as we update it regularly!

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What other Colorado libraries say about library districts

A library district is a model for governance and funding that is the most common form of library governance in the state of Colorado. The majority of all library cardholders in the state (60+%) are served by a district. Districts are funded through property taxes - just like schools, fire services, and transportation in many communities. 

This stable source of funding ensures that vital services aren't disrupted during economic downturns. Without it, we risk losing our libraries. 

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published Gunbarrel doesn't have a library branch in Blog 2022-08-11 08:00:49 -0600

Gunbarrel doesn't have a library branch

Gunbarrel doesn't have a library. This community of 12K+ (according to 2016 data), located to northeast of the city, has been asking for library services for decades. Because the community straddles the Boulder's city limits, many residents live in unincorporated portions of Boulder County, outside of the library's current municipal service area. As a result, public amenities are hard to come by, despite documented community need and demand. It's time to change that!

Gunbarrel deserves a neighborhood library

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published Libraries and senior populations in Blog 2022-07-21 16:51:42 -0600

Libraries and senior populations

We know that property taxes can be a challenge for some seniors on fixed incomes, and we know how important the library is to seniors as a source of connection, community, and learning. 

Senior citizens are heavy users of library services, from book-borrowing to computer classes and events at the Canyon Theater. The library’s home delivery program serves seniors and those with mobility issues directly, so that they can access materials without needing to visit in-person.

Read more
published Businesses in Blog 2022-05-13 13:31:27 -0600

How are libraries good for business?

As former Governor John Hickenlooper said: Two of the most important assets any town has are its library and its Main Street.

As former Governor John Hickenlooper said, “Two of the most important assets any town has are its library and its Main Street.”

Should businesses support ballot measure 6C to fund the Boulder library? 

Let’s be clear: Thriving cultural assets – such as arts, libraries, and parks – are a big part of what draws businesses (and people who become employees and customers) to a region. Attractive amenities attract.

So, yes! The answer is yes.

Having more libraries — and robust, accessible library services — also leads to a more educated workforce in the community, which is good for business. An educated workforce helps a business's bottom line, and the long term benefits of a healthy library system greatly outweigh the short term costs. It's a good investment to make for the community. That’s why we are driving the campaign to get stable funding for what the library does. 

In the meantime, your library currently supports small businesses in countless ways despite massive budget cuts, and that’s why many small local businesses support the formation and funding of the district. If you're a local small business and would like to endorse us, please do that here:

What do libraries do for business? 

The library has so many small-business resources to make owning and operating a business easier in Boulder. Here’s a list of services that are free, and freely available (though currently under threat of cancellation due to lack of stable funding):

  • meeting rooms and co-working spaces
  • support with creating business plans
  • access to financial and marketing research databases
  • tech training resources like computer skills and email basics
  • essential workforce development via direct support such as job coaching, including real-time interview practice, full-service resume review, skills building and a writing lab
  • access to dozens of self-paced classes to learn new skills, upgrade existing skills and earn certificates and high school degrees

BLDG 61, the library's makerspace, has seen over 75 small businesses launched, including 12 patent applications. BLDG 61 is an incubator for small businesses. It provides free access to high tech tools like 3D printers, looms, woodworking equipment, laser cutters, a CNC router, and electronics.

Through BoulderReads, adult learners can get GEDs to go and work for small businesses. All of the services mentioned above are under threat due to lack of stable funding, and many of them are directly supported via grants. 

Commercial property owners are not the same as small business owners

Businesses and their employees are heavy users of library services. But when people ask about how the district will impact businesses, we need to differentiate between businesses and commercial property owners

While the exact percentage of commercial property in Boulder that's actually owned by residents living here in Boulder County is not known, from what we can tell, it’s less than 50%. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), only 10% of small businesses own their own buildings. The Boulder Office of Economic Vitality does periodic informal business surveys, and in their most recent survey, they indicated that two thirds of businesses in Boulder lease their space, while only about 17% of local businesses own their own building.

Nationally, according to SBA, 50% of small businesses are actually home-based, and home-based properties aren't taxed as a commercial property.

What does the Gallagher Amendment do in terms of taxation on commercial property? 

There’s no dispute that commercial property owners are disproportionately taxed in Colorado, and that this is a result of the Gallagher Amendment, not a library district proposal. The higher rates for commercial properties account for the fact that properties designated as commercial can sell things out of their space and therefore have a higher tax burden than residential properties. 

Currently, commercial property is taxed at about 4 times the amount as residential property owners. And locally, this is true for how:

  • the city of Boulder's own property tax is assessed on commercial property [14% Boulder property tax] 
  • Boulder County’s property tax is assessed on commercial property [28% of Boulder property tax], and 
  • Boulder Valley School District's tax is assessed on commercial property [54% of Boulder property tax]

The library district proposal does not change that taxing rate, because it is a matter of state law. In 2020, the Gallagher Amendment was repealed, which will lead to a greater level of predictability in terms of the taxes commercial property owners will pay, and will ultimately — down the road — stabilize the amount of taxes paid by commercial property owners over time.

Ballot measure 6C represents a flat 4% increase on commercial and residential properties alike. That equals $23 per $100K of residential value, and $97.60 per $100K of commercial value. It’s true that commercial property owners pass those taxes on to small business owners through NNN (triple-net) leases. In that arrangement, the tenant agrees to pay for all real estate taxes. We believe, for most office type spaces, this equates to an additional $0.15 - $0.18 NNN cost per square foot per year.

To repeat: in accordance with state law, and in accordance with the way all city, county, and school district taxes work, the tax on commercial properties is levied based on the Gallagher Amendment, and in the case of the library, it's a flat 4% increase. If rental prices increase beyond 4%, that would not be due to the library district. 

Supporting businesses as the district forms 

If we want to talk about lessening the tax burden on commercial property owners, city leaders can focus on how they can use the savings they get from the library becoming a district (should voters approve it in November) to ease that burden during our COVID recovery and ease the burden on locally owned small businesses in Boulder.

The Library Champions have suggested a grant or rebate program for small business property owners in the intervening period. Ultimately, what the city does is up to the city, and residents should provide input to them. The library district itself can further invest in some business-focused services (such as a business helpdesk, for instance), that would help offset the increase for small, local businesses in the district area. 

If you're a local small business and would like to endorse us, please do that here:

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David Farnan, Library & Arts Director, a hidden gem

There are everyday heroes all around us. The individuals who make a difference in our communities. In these extraordinary times we see these everyday heroes going above and beyond. The health care workers on the front lines, delivery drivers, school principals and teachers who have had to adapt to a new normal and support our kids along the way, neighbors who are buying groceries for each other, friends sewing masks, the list goes on. Heroes like this don’t wear capes but make a big impact.

In Boulder, we are incredibly fortunate to have David Farnan as our Library & Arts Director. David is truly one of Boulder’s hidden gems. In the last 6 years, David has been able to overhaul the library on a shoestring budget; oversee growth to over one million annual visitors (or 9.56 visits per capita, the highest rate of any city or metro area library); and amass 126,000 loyal cardholders (118% of Boulder’s population!). Clearly, the library is a popular place and David’s work to overhaul the system shows. David’s work has not only avoided significant deterioration of service at Boulder Public Library, it has propelled BPL to one of the most innovative libraries around -- even leading to it being named the 2016 Library of the Year. 

The stories of those impacted by the innovations at the library are as heartwarming as they are numerous. From the TreeOpp program transforming an environmental challenge into art and social change to Reading Buddies helping children find the motivation to read, to the incredibly quick pivot for virtual programming and wifi hotspot roll out as COVID-19 shut Boulder down, you can’t get through the website without finding a unique offering chartered by David and his staff. We eagerly await this fall's One Book One Boulder, a timely event in which the library staff and the Boulder Library Foundation will bring the community together to read and discuss "So You Want To Talk About Race," and to listen to its author Ijeoma Oluo.

Often, the measure of a great leader are those who choose to come work for them. Looking around BPL, it’s clear David has assembled a world-class team and that the team is as invested in David’s vision as he is. David's singular superpower is his openness to listen to his capable staff's ideas and then to create the space for them to bring those plans to fruition. Under his leadership, many programs have been given life and been nurtured even against the current of dwindling resources.

He is the Library Evangelist. He is enthusiastic and cheerful about all things library and he will spend any amount of time sharing with people the small and great accomplishments of his staff and of libraries everywhere. His passion originates in the sincere belief in democracy, justice, and the place of public libraries in preserving those values. It’s clear Boulder is fortunate to enjoy one of the most dedicated library staffs around with a visionary leader that brings it all together.

Several groups of library lovers consider David Farnan to be a hero within our community: The Boulder Library Foundation, Boulder Library Commission and Boulder Library Champions would

all like to thank and commend David for the job he’s done. So the next time you’re browsing the website for a book or event, remember one of Boulder's hidden heroes, the guy who has strengthened Boulder Public Library into a cornerstone of our City. 



The Boulder Library Foundation

Boulder Public Library Commission

Boulder Library Champions

Shining a Light on Boulder's Budget: How Would a Library District Help Boulder's Budget?

Forming a library district would free up at least $9.7 million/year in the city budget.   The library district would be responsible to implement the community’s vision for our library, so funding for increased staffing, future capital projects and maintenance of facilities (including the facilities backlog) would no longer be a city responsibility. 

These revenues would be freed up to go to other programs and services, or be refunded to taxpayers. Savings over ten years would add up to over $100 million dollars

 Most library districts continue to rely on their city government to provide administrative overhead services.  “Contracting back” with the library district for these services would turn this paper revenue stream into a real revenue stream of up to $3.4M/year.

The chart below compares cost savings realized by the city if a library district is formed, compared against city "unfunded needs"  projected from 2025 forward.


Read on for details about how forming a library district can help relieve pressure on the Boulder city budget.

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published Where Do Our Tax Dollars Go? in Blog 2019-10-01 23:33:43 -0600

Shining a Light on Boulder's Budget: Where Do Our Tax Dollars Go?

 Boulder's City government implements over 300 "community" and "governance" programs spread across 21 departments. Community programs provide direct service to residents and businesses, while governance programs provide support services to other city departments.


More than 50% of the operating budget goes to 5 departments: police, open space and mountain parks, parks & recreation, utilities and city governance/administration (city council, attorney’s office, clerk, communications, city manager, finance, HR, IT).  

Note that “governance” includes city debt payments and operating reserves. The city has been building towards a 20% operating reserve for the last ten years.

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wants to volunteer 2019-03-17 17:08:06 -0600

Become a volunteer

Will you join our team of volunteers and help secure sustainable funding for our community library's future? Where you can help:

  • Yes, I will host a house party or neighborhood gathering

    Learn More: The campaign will work with you to schedule and host an event where friends and other potential supporters from your network can learn more about the Boulder Library Champions campaign. 
    When? Ongoing
  • Yes, I will help spread the word through social media

    Learn More: Help us spread the Boulder Library Champions’ messages via pre-approved messaging, graphics and images designed to be copied and pasted into your social media feeds.
    When? Ongoing
  • Yes, I will help with fundraising for this fall's election campaign.

    Learn More: Help to identify and engage people who might be willing to donate to the Boulder Library Champions campaign. 
    When? Ongoing
  • Yes, I will help distribute campaign literature

    Learn More: Getting the word out in a busy election year is more important than ever. “Lit drops” include going door-to-door to distribute campaign information to likely voters and other supporters in the proposed Library District boundary. 
    When? August through Election Day
  • Yes, I will write/submit a Letter to the Editor or Guest Column to a local newspaper

    Learn More: We’ll help you deliver informed and authoritative commentary about your support for the Boulder Library Champions on the opinion pages of your local newspaper. 
    When? Ongoing
  • Yes, I will help canvass or phone bank

    Learn More: Make phone calls and send text messages to help us identify supporters and provide voters with information on why they should vote yes to create a Library District. 
    When? June-Election Day
  • Yes, I will place a sign in my yard

    Learn More: Show your support for a Library District to passersby, customers, friends and neighbors. Most signs are suitable for neighborhoods, but we’re happy to design larger signs for supporters who have high-visibility or high-traffic locales.
    When? August through Election Day
  • Other -- let me know what you need!

    Learn More: Want to roll up your sleeves in some other way when demand warrants? Let us know that you’re available. 
    When? Ongoing

Sign up here to be added to our volunteer list to get a heads-up when we need a hand. You can also email us at [email protected] with questions or other ideas for how you might help.

Become a volunteer