Over the course of 2018, the Boulder Library Commission and Boulder City Council worked closely with City Finance and Planning Staff, and Independent Financial Consultants, to address the issue of funding for the Boulder Public Library. After much research and consideration, the commission has concluded that the library is chronically underfunded and now is the time to secure a sustainable long-term funding source.
Boulder really loves their library. Since 2006, total cardholders are up 76%, materials checked out are up 32%, program attendance is up 64%, and the Summer Reading program participation is up a whopping 598%. In 2018, BPL served over 1 million patrons, and is consistently one of the busiest public spaces in Boulder, receiving more annual visits than Chautauqua, Boulder County Farmers Markets, and Boulder’s recreation centers.
However, funding has not kept pace with this increase of use. BPL is operating on 2002 funding levels, and library staffing has decreased by 16%.
The Library is certainly doing more with less, but the question is for how long? Secure long-term funding is required in order to maintain the current high-quality service levels and to meet community goals such as operating costs for the new NoBo branch, to activate the Canyon Theatre, to reach out to Latinx community members, extend library services to Gunbarrel, and address deferred maintenance on all library buildings. By 2023, there is a projected shortfall of approx. $4 million per year.
In order to meet this funding issue, the Commission is recommending the formation of a Library district. This would dedicate a portion of property taxes to directly fund the library. However, the Commission ultimately believes that the decision is up to the community and welcomes the opportunity for input via city polling, which will be conducted in the next couple of months. If you are interested in learning more on this subject, visit our Library Funding page.
Libraries help communities develop to their fullest potential. Let’s invest in ours so our community can continue to thrive.