April 3, 2018 Levy Information
The Board of Trustees for the Library has identified the need for sustainable, ongoing levy funding to replace one-time donation support from 2014. This will help avoid significant reductions in services and allow the library to better meet its mission of lifelong learning, cultural literacy, and bringing the community together.
The Ferguson Municipal Public Library District Board of Trustees has placed a levy funding request on the April 3, 2018 ballot in Ferguson, MO to increase the library levy by $0.18 per $100 assessed valuation over the current rate of $0.22, bringing it to $0.40. This is projected to increase the library’s current anticipated tax revenue of approximately $386,000 by $324,000 to $710,000 for FY 2018-19.
If the levy IS APPROVED by voters, the Board of Trustees for the Library anticipates implementing the following improvements to programs, services, collections, staffing, and facilities:
- Additional enhancements to programming
- Investing in our library staff
- Increase in materials budgets
- Improvements to technology
- Improvement to physical space
If the levy is NOT APPROVED, the Ferguson Library’s 4-year budget projections are:
FY 17 – 18 budget is $562,500 (with $463,500 from levy and other revenues plus $99,000 from donation reserves).
FY 18 – 19 budget will be reduced by $56,700 down to $505,800 (with $433,800 from levy and other revenues plus $72,000 from donation reserves)
FY 19 – 20 budget will be further reduced by $34,500 down to $471,300 (with $432,300 from levy and other revenues plus $39,000 from donation reserves)
FY 20 – 21 budget will be reduced to $431,000 revenue (all levy revenue and other revenues; donation reserves are depleted)
To find your polling place, go to: https://voteroutreach.sos.mo.gov/PRD/VoterOutreach/VOSearch.aspx
Missouri law now requires you to provide photo identification when voting. For more information on acceptable forms of identification at your polling place, please visit: https://www.sos.mo.gov/showit2vote
You must be registered to vote by March 7th.
Ferguson Library Levy Plan
Thanks to one-time donations in 2014, the Ferguson Municipal Public Library District has been able to operate on a higher budget than previously possible. This funding has allowed library staff to dramatically increase programming, make upgrades to the building that were 20 years overdue, improve collections for all ages and interests, and be much more responsive to the needs of Ferguson residents. If the measure were to pass, these efforts could continue after the 2014 donations run out–keeping the library responsive and able to offer robust services while also allowing new services that the library cannot currently afford.
The library and its Board have been careful and prudent to make the most impact with those one-time donations and would continue to be careful and prudent with more secure and predictable funding.
If the Measure Passes – “Plan A”
If the levy is approved by voters, the Board of Trustees for the Library anticipates implementing the following improvements to programs, services, collections, staffing, and facilities:
Additional enhancements to programming
With the one-time donation money received in 2014, the library has been able to increase substantially the number of library programs from one program per year to multiple programs per month. The library has been able to invite local cultural institutions like the St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis Science Center, and the Magic House; hold computer and coding classes for kids and adults; sponsor a FIRST Robotics Lego League team; organize holiday-themed events; provide opportunities for our community to connect with each other through book clubs and craft programs; and much more, all for free.
If the levy is approved by voters on April 3rd, the library anticipates providing this level of programming each month while identifying ways to better serve specific segments of our community. These enhancements include:
- Further develop our outreach and homebound services to bring the library and our services to patrons who cannot access the library for a variety of reasons
- Offer more intensive computer and coding classes to help patrons gain the skills they need for jobs and school
- Provide more programming, particularly during the after school hours, to encourage children and teens in the library to do more than just hang out
- Work more closely with local civic and charitable organizations to connect our patrons experiencing homelessness or poverty to services that can help them
- Increase our early literacy and school preparedness efforts to support our youngest learners
Investing in our library staff
Since the one-time donations in 2014, the library has changed its staffing from largely part-time (excluding the library director) to include full-time and part-time employees. This has improved quality and consistency of service and allowed the library to complete many long-term projects to improve the library space and its services.
If the levy is approved by voters on April 3rd, the library anticipates hiring a full-time adult services librarian to provide reference services for all patrons including entrepreneurs and small business owners, students, professionals, and job seekers. This librarian would enhance adult programming to better fulfill the needs of our adult population, including seniors, and improve services to homebound and differently-abled patrons. In addition, the library anticipates hiring additional part-time staff to provide more efficient and effective customer service to patrons of all ages and interests. Furthermore, the board anticipates evaluating salary and benefits for library employees to attract excellent staff that can provide quality service to Ferguson citizens.
Increase in materials budget
In the past few years, the library has been able to provide a wider selection of materials, replace outdated and unwanted materials, and greatly improve the consistency and quality of the library catalog. Because the Board did not want to become dependent on one-time donation money for regular operations, the library maintained previous budget amounts for books, movies, and music.
If the levy is approved by voters on April 3rd, the library anticipates expanding collection offerings and make them more responsive to patron requests. A highly responsive collection of books, music, and movies would allow the library to improve services to all patrons including currently under-served populations like seniors. The library anticipates these kind of improvements:
Increase selection of print materials
- Offer more selection in Large Print materials for our older or visually impaired patrons; the library currently acquires only 4 titles per month
- Offer more popular reading materials, like bestsellers, urban fiction, and more
- Update materials for children to offer current information and more popular titles
Increase selection of ebooks and other e-materials
- Offer patrons more options to access library materials in ways that better fit their day-to-day lives
- Provide more options for patrons with vision issues or problems physically accessing the library to utilize library materials
- Provide more options for all patrons to use the library’s collections from a distance or during non-operating hours through digital devices or home internet access
- Continue and enhance the library’s efforts to adapt the most appropriate new technologies to serve Ferguson citizens well, as lifestyles and expectations surrounding technology evolve
Increase selection of databases
- Offer business and consumer information to support small businesses and emerging commerce
- Offer magazine and academic journal access to support students of all ages and researchers
- Offer genealogical products to support amateur genealogists and family historians
Increase selection of movies and music
- Allow purchases to be more responsive to patron demand
- Allow the library to build and maintain a collection of classic, beloved movies for children and adults
- Expand the scope of our music collection to serve music lovers of all ages and interests
Improvements to the technology budget
In 2015, the library was able to replace and expand public technology options using grant and donation money, replacing 10 outdated computers with 17 new desktop PCs, a laptop lab, and a smartboard. This dramatically improved the library’s ability to help Ferguson citizens cross the “digital divide,” which causes those unfamiliar with technology to struggle in a computer-centric world. The library is the one place in town that allows those without home internet access the ability to apply for jobs, use social media, or search for information. At the library, seniors, lower-income families, and those unfamiliar with technology can access technology at no cost and gain fluency to navigate the new digital age.
If the levy is approved by voters on April 3rd, the library anticipates beginning a 4-year technology replacement cycle. This replacement cycle ensures that library patrons can have access to fast, functional, and well cared for public computers. As technology evolves, the library can upgrade offerings, preventing Ferguson citizens from falling on the wrong side of the digital divide. Additionally, this replacement cycle allows the library to offer other technologies as they emerge.
Improvement of physical space
The Board directed much of the one-time 2014 donation money to making the library safer and more inviting, making improvements that were a decade or more overdue. These improvements include installing handicap-accessible front doors, renovating the library’s bathrooms, replacing two 20-year-old HVAC units, replacing ripped and mismatched carpet throughout the building, and introducing modular and attractive tables and chairs. Further funding would allow the library to continue making prudent and significant upgrades which increase the utility and value of the physical space for all patrons.
If the levy is approved by voters on April 3rd, the library anticipates making additional necessary and cost-saving improvements to the library building. These improvements would make the building more inviting, more energy efficient, and more accessible to all patrons:
- Replace shelving with a more accessible and attractive option, making access easier for children and patrons with mobility issues, and making materials easier to see and find
- Improve quality of lighting making materials easier to see and find
- Continue other updates to the space like a new ceiling and rerouting duct-work
- Improve efficiency of heating and cooling systems and replace windows with more energy efficient models to keep energy costs down
If the Measure Fails – “Plan B”
The one-time donations in 2014 have allowed the Ferguson Municipal Public Library District to expand services, while also completing long overdue improvements to the building itself. These one-time donations are projected to last for another two years. The library board anticipates to budget at current funding and donation levels for as long as possible.
If the levy is not approved on April 3rd, the library anticipates making the following changes to services within existing funding (current 1995 levy funding and remaining 2014 donation support).
Over the next two years…
The library anticipates extending the life of the one-time 2014 donations as much as possible and belt-tightening reductions throughout the library budget. Small fundraising will continue with no guaranteed result. Library services at existing capacity would continue into June 2020. However, staff professional development will be curtailed or eliminated.
Starting in July 2020…
The library anticipates making the following changes to services:
Cut and reduce programming
The library’s programming budget will drop to $2,000 per year from the current $25,000 per year, dramatically reducing frequency and variety for all patrons. This drastic reduction means:
- Programming for adults and seniors will end
- Programs with civic institutions like the St. Louis Zoo or the Science Center will be cut due to costs
- Patrons will be charged a material fee for programs featuring crafts or consumables
- Homebound services to Ferguson residents will end
Reduce ability to serve patrons
The library will be less able to provide service to Ferguson residents as staffing is reduced significantly.
- The patron requests staff can meet will be quickly-filled and shallow, as staff will not have the option to give one-on-one help to patrons with greater need like those applying for jobs, writing resumes, or learning how to use technology
- Patrons will experience longer and slower lines at the circulation desk, requiring more patience from patrons and lessening convenience of use
- Over time, the library collection will age and go out of date with less staff time for collection maintenance, like purging outdated non-fiction, repairing damaged books, and identifying and filling gaps in the library collection’s offerings
- Long-term collection improvement projects will become difficult to conceive and complete–causing the collection to no longer grow and evolve with patron interests and needs.
Cut staffing and limit ability to hire professionals
The library will have fewer staff members and a reduced ability to attract quality full-time or part-time staff members.
- Continue not offering healthcare coverage to employees, and reducing the stipend for employees to get coverage elsewhere on the market, making it harder to hire and retain high quality full-time staff
- As staff members are cut, the library loses the expertise and dedication of its staff and their immediate, tangible benefit to patrons
- Stop all COLA adjustments, thereby dropping relative pay compared to other public libraries, which makes it harder to hire and retain high quality staff members
- End staff development, ongoing training, and attendance at professional conferences, all of which will make it harder to retain quality staff and cause skill and expertise of current staff to stagnate
Reduce operating hours
The library will have to reduce the hours it is open.
- Either Saturday hours or weeknights would be reduced or eliminated, meaning that Ferguson residents who work or attend school will have significant difficulty utilizing the library’s services and resources
- These new reduced operating hours would affect local Ferguson businesses who would receive potential foot-traffic from library patrons before or after their library visit
Out-of-date technology and slow Internet access
The library will rarely replace aging computers and the overall quality of technology maintenance will be reduced.
- Patrons will have less access to reliable, up-to-date public computers for filling out job applications, getting online training, or typing a school assignment. All public computers will slowly degrade in speed and functionality
- New computer purchases will cease and broken computers will not be replaced, greatly reducing patron access to computing technology in any form
- Library staff will be unable to bring new technologies in the library or acquire technologies that provide services for patrons outside the library, like WiFi hotspots for checkout
- Internet speeds will slow, and the library’s ability offer fast, reliable WiFi to all patrons will diminish
Cut future building maintenance and improvements
The library will be unable to perform necessary maintenance and other improvements to the library building itself.
- The library building will degrade over time, becoming less welcoming and safe for all patrons
- Without improvements to the physical plant, the library will increasingly become more expensive to heat, cool, and maintain to patron comfort and expectations
- Any broken feature of the library building like furniture or shelving will be replaced by a cheaper, less attractive, less functional alternative, or not replaced at all