Message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:
Since my last report, much has changed on the American landscape. In September, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hovered between 11,500 and 10,500. Since that time, it dropped dramatically, falling close to the 8,000 mark as late as October 27. Recently, it surpassed the 9,000 mark, but that may have changed by the time you read this!
Another thing that will change is that we will have new national leadership. We have witnessed massive federal bailout programs, and using those very funds, a Pennsylvania bank is purchasing a Cleveland bank. There is talk of a multi-million dollar mortgage bailout for consumers caught up in the collapse of real estate markets. One thing for sure is that we will see other initiatives with a different administration.
The ripple effect of this economic downturn is being seen on a both a state and local level. The State of Ohio revenue has been below projections for much of the year and the forecasted amount of funds being distributed through the new Public Library Fund has been adjusted from a slight increase to a 2% decrease over 2007. Likewise, Ohio Library Council is warning libraries to budget tightly for the first quarter of 2009 when most of the “hits” of a 3% to 5% decrease over 2008 will be taken.
We have made prudent use of our tax dollars and have actually kept expenses below last year’s levels; however, the issue of sliding home valuations is no less problematic than declining state funding. Although our community has provided Shaker Library with outstanding support, including a 74% positive vote this past March, property tax collection rates in 2008 have been slightly below previous years, and may affect anticipated revenues for 2009. In short, we will have to be just as careful next year as we have been this year in controlling the library’s budget.
Libraries across the country have been experiencing higher usage levels and Shaker Library is no exception as we are nearing the end of our third consecutive year of record circulation. On the national level, the American Library Association has asked Congress for a $100 million stimulus package to help libraries, both rural and urban, keep up with demand.
On the local level, Mayor Earl Leiken has appointed a city-school-library committee to consider financial needs from a joint perspective. The group will investigate ways that we can work together in cooperative ventures that would benefit all agencies. The library is fortunate to have the expertise and energy of Ken McGovern and David Bergholz, who will represent the library.
At this Thanksgiving time of year, we are also appreciative of the consistent financial support we receive from Friends of the Shaker Library to cover the “extras” not funded by our tax-supported budget and from other generous donors who value the benefits of a free public library. If you would like to volunteer for a worthy local effort or are considering a year-end donation, Friends of the Shaker Library is one group to consider. It’s also a good time to consider making a contribution to the Shaker Heights Public Library Fund of the Cleveland Foundation.
During these tight economic times, I urge you to take advantage of the many FREE programs and services the library offers. From adult book discussions, to computer classes, to meet-the-author events, to teen jewelry making programs, to free tutoring for school-age children, and free family films, Shaker Library has something for everyone.
Luren E. Dickinson, Director