Bookmobile Service to Be Discontinued

Nov 11, 2009 04:33:34 PM

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Kalamazoo, MI –

At their regular monthly meeting on October 26, 2009, Kalamazoo Public Library’s board of trustees very reluctantly decided to phase out bookmobile service by no later than the end of the current fiscal year, June 30, 2010.

Kalamazoo Public Library, like most other organizations, is facing budget constraints. Earlier this year, KPL asked voters to support a 20-year renewal of the library’s operating millage at the same rate of 2.7782. Voters approved the request by a 3-to-1 margin. However, passing the millage at the same rate does not guarantee the same revenue to the library. 92% of KPL’s revenue comes from property taxes. As property tax values drop, KPL’s revenue drops, while costs for many items continue to rise.

The State Treasurer has forecast a 6.5% drop in taxable value statewide; we anticipate a 5% drop here in Kalamazoo. This drop, combined with additional revenue cuts in state aid and other income sources, will require another $550,000 cut in next year’s budget.

Until now, KPL has met budget constraints by reducing energy use, delaying equipment purchases, trimming funds for books, movies, music, newspapers, magazines, and more. We’ve also eliminated positions and reassigned work following retirements and resignations. Those measures are no longer enough—we have to look for greater cost savings. Dropping bookmobile service will realize annual savings in staff costs, library materials, oil and gas, repairs, and various supplies.

About 600 patrons checked out a total of 26,459 items from the bookmobile last year—less than 3% of the library’s total circulation. While we share the disappointment of bookmobile patrons, we know many of them also use other KPL locations. Bookmobile staff estimate that about 68-80 current bookmobile users cannot travel elsewhere. We will seek to meet their needs through existing services, like Via Mail (books-by-mail) and deposit collections at senior residences.

Read the library director’s complete Bookmobile Report and recommendation to the board.

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