I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. We did! In fact, we're right in the middle of planning expanded library services that will deliver on the promises we made to voters, and we’re enormously thankful for that opportunity!
Last week, we presented an amended 2016 budget to the Board of County Commissioners. It includes initiatives we expect to implement in 2016, based on the additional revenue approved by the voters in the recent mill levy election. Here's what the additional revenue will allow us to do:
- We expect to expand hours at all JCPL Libraries. Our larger libraries (Arvada, Belmar, Columbine, Evergreen, Golden, Lakewood, and Standley Lake) will go from 51 hours a week to 65 hours a week. That means open hours from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday; from 9a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Our smaller libraries will offer longer hours as well. It will take us some time to implement the longer hours, as we need to recruit, hire and train additional staff before we do, but we plan to begin the expanded schedule April 4.
- We expect to invest $5.9 million in books and materials. This is an increase of $2 million when compared to 2015, and it should make a noticeable difference in the availability of high-demand materials.
- We'll begin updating technology by installing more than 100 updated public access computers as quickly as possible, expanding bandwidth and wireless access points at our libraries and updating critical infrastructure.
- We'll begin to catch up on delayed capital projects (parking lots, HVAC systems and other pent-up demands), and we’ll begin to plan for future building refurbishments, beginning with the Columbine Library in 2017.
- We'll begin planning for expanded library services in South County; and
- We'll begin to recharge our savings so that we can pay cash for future big-ticket items.
At the Commissioners' request, we have submitted additional detail on our 2016 amended budget, including business cases for all major initiatives and capital projects. There will be a final public budget hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at the County Administration Building, at which time, we hope the budget will be approved.
In the meantime, I'd like to commend our Board of Trustees for their leadership and oversight. They are committed to meeting the needs of Jeffco residents while ensuring responsible spending. They’ve confirmed that commitment in a letter they recently submitted to local media, and I’d like to share it with you:
Dear Jeffco Residents,
As Library Trustees, we were thrilled with the recent positive election outcome. It’s gratifying and humbling to see the value you place on libraries and the trust you place in us. Your support of 1A will enable us to:
• Expand library hours;
• Provide more books and materials;
• Update technology;
• Repair and refurbish buildings; and
• Stabilize library finances.
We look forward to giving Jeffco residents the services they want and deserve. However, we won’t try to do it all at once.
As Library Trustees we have a dual fiduciary responsibility: first, to provide a responsible level of library services, and second, to serve as effective stewards of taxpayer funds. We take these responsibilities very seriously.
When we resolved to go for a mill levy increase, we committed to restoring Library services, while monitoring the Library’s budget to assure responsible spending.
Rest assured, we intend to keep that promise.
The Jefferson County Library Board of Trustees
Brian DeLaet, Chair
Julia Hill Nichols, Vice-Chair
John Bodner, Secretary
We are lucky to have such a balanced approach to library services. And we can’t wait to get started!