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Funding Our Library Future

Funding Our Library Future

Based on the community’s increased library use and request for expanded services in the 2018 Library Master Plan, it’s estimated that library funding will fall short by at least $3.2 million every year if sustainable funding is not provided moving forward. These shortfalls do not include further library budget cuts caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Creating a library district is considered one of the greatest options for stabilizing the library’s budget.

The City of Boulder has been investigating library funding options to meet these shortfalls, including the formation of an independent library district funded by property tax collected within set district boundaries (see the map of the proposed library district boundaries). On May 18, 2021, City Council voted unanimously to move forward with pursuing a library district. Please check out the meeting video and packet for more information.

Meeting Demand & Expanding Services

Boulder Public Library has operated without a substantial increase in operating funding since 2002. When adjusted for inflation, the Library’s operating budget has increased by only 3% in twelve years, despite a significant increase in library use and many expanded services and amenities.

Since 2006:

  • The number of Boulder Public Library cardholders grew by 55%
  • The number of hours the library locations are open to the public increased by 15.5%
  • The NoBo Corner Library and the BLDG 61 Makerspace opened
  • Patron check out of library materials increased by 32%
  • Streaming/downloadable content was added
  • Patron attendance of library programs increased by 33%


  • Full-time staffing decreased by 5%, and overall staffing decreased by 17% per 1000 patrons served
  • Many library programs and events have lengthy waiting lists
  • The library collection budget continues to be stretched to offer new materials and new formats

Our community has great aspirations for the library, including more programs and services, new and improved facilities, technology and maker resources, and building community and partnerships. This page will continue to be updated throughout the year with news about securing sustainable funding for the community’s library aspirations.