Message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:
Budget news was bad this past month as the Ohio legislature finally dealt with the state’s multi-billion dollar deficit by approving revenue through video slot machines and, among many other cuts, reducing the Public Library Fund by more than $80 million over the biennium.
The PLF’s share of the state’s general revenue fund has been lowered from 2.22% to 1.97%, which means 11% less for libraries on top of the anticipated 15 to 20% shortfall in tax collections this year alone. For the Shaker Library, that amounts to more than $500,000 annually, nearly a third of the money we receive from the state or 10% of our entire budget.
Besides revenue enhancements, such as raising fines and meeting room fees, we are reducing our library materials budget and Sunday hours, offering incentives to employees who might be considering retirement and to those who might be able to switch to another health plan, closing the library for a few "furlough" days, and freezing furniture and equipment purchases. We will eventually have to make further cuts for 2010.
We have instituted a hiring freeze for unfilled positions and we will also freeze the staff development budget and the tuition reimbursement funds for the remainder of the year. All staff will take unpaid furlough days so the economic impact will be shared by all employees. Less than full-time employees and substitutes will have their hours strictly controlled, which should slightly reduce the number of hours worked by everyone.
Funding issues aside, July was an award-filled month for the Library. Ohio Library Council’s Awards and Honors Committee selected Friends of the Shaker Library as the 2009 recipient of the OFL Recognition Award for “imaginative and effective activities.” This is certainly a well-deserved honor for the Friends organization, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2010.
Other exciting news is that Shaker Library once again received a “Best of Show” award from the American Library Association for its 2008 children’s summer reading material.
An additional highlight of the summer has been our participation in the MyCom grant program through the Cleveland Foundation. Shaker Library hired two teens, who were paid through Youth Opportunities Unlimited. Shaker Heights provided jobs for 100 young people, making our community’s Y.O.U. group one of the largest in Cuyahoga County. At minimum wage for 20 hours a week over six weeks, that produced an economic impact of approximately $85,000! Our MyCom grant money will fund an exciting two-session, Stop-Motion Animation Workshop August 12 & 13 and from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, August 20, teens ages 12 – 17 can dance off their library fines at the community Colonnade.
The summer reading program ended in July, and as we head into September we will offer our popular Back-to-School Stories on a Shaker school bus thanks to the Shaker Schools, which provides a bus and a friendly bus driver as our back drop. Race to Witch Mountain is this month’s free family flick playing at 2 p.m. Saturday, August 22 at Main Library. Other programs include our regular Knit Night at 7 p.m. Thursday, August 6 at Woods Branch. The Red Cross bloodmobile will be at Main Library from 3-7 p.m. Monday, August 10, and we will have two “Wii for Seniors” programs from 1-3:30 p.m. August 12 and 26 at the Main Library. It’s never too late to learn something new!