Unfortunately, the library does not have the budget need to resume full operations in 2021. Due to pandemic-related budget cuts and falling sales-tax revenue:
- Thirteen library staff positions were eliminated and all 50 temporary staff were terminated. Three positions are held vacant, but are unlikely to the filled this year.
- The Main library and the Meadows branch will operate on reduced hours - primarily for pickup of holds, with limited access to computers.
- NoBo will begin curbside pickup of holds, by appointment. The Reynolds branch is closed.
- Most physical collections are off-limits and the materials budget is reduced.
- The Carnegie local history collection is closed with very limited virtual access.
- The BLDG 61 Maker Space is closed with limited virtual access to technology and resources.
- In-person programming has not resumed, and public meeting rooms are not available for public use.
It didn’t have to be this way. Our peer libraries which are funded as library districts have opened all their branches. They are offering free access to physical collections and maker spaces. In-person programming has resumed as it has been safe to do so, and their meeting rooms are available for public use.
Why the difference? With stable funding from property taxes, library districts were able to retain sufficient staff during the pandemic to meet patron demand, enforce social distancing, and perform extra cleaning to ensure everyone’s safety. However, municipal libraries, funded like ours, are struggling to support even basic services as sales tax revenue has plummeted and city budgets have been diverted to supporting pandemic response efforts.