Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Big $1.5 million Brainstorm

Ten Suggestions to Save and Generate $1.5 Million

Without Closing The Hamline Midway Library

The point of these suggestions is that they may not be "right." The point is that there are many alternatives to closing down a beloved and historic neighborhood library. The city needs about $200,000 to $300,000 to operate the Hamline-Midway branch, so you can reject, slice or dice these ideas however you like.

1. Voluntary Donation Bins (estimated revenue = $595,512.00)

Like Como Zoo, the City of Saint Paul should provide large and visible places for individuals to donate to the library at every branch in the library system. There should also be smaller, temporary donation bins for use at each library branch before and after adult and children’s events. Presenters and/or the head librarian should refer to the temporary bins before and after the free programs.

Library customers visited the library 2.7 million times last year, which means that a donation of just ten cents per visit or $1 for ten would generate enough money to staff the Hamline Midway library ($270,000). If the 108,504 people who attended a library program last year also donated an average of $3 each, SPPL would generate an additional $325,512.00 in revenue. SPPL currently has no systemic method of requesting voluntary donations in this manner.

2. Use Four Work-Study Students and a Half-Time Librarian II to Staff the

Hamline Midway Library (approximate savings = $200,000.00 - $250,000.00)

Partner with local colleges and universities to employ four work-study students who are seeking degrees in early education or library sciences to staff the Hamline Midway Library. Reduce the current Librarian II position to half-time. This plan does not eliminate any current union employees, because there were 4 FTEs added in the 2009 Adopted Budget, which were not filled, in addition to one existing position that has been left vacant. The approximate savings from utilizing work-study students would be between $200,000.00 and $250,000.00.

3. Temporarily Reduce Materials Budget by 50% (savings = $600,000.00)

The current materials budget is $1.2 million. The proposed budget is $806,000, an approximate 33% reduction. If the materials budget were reduced by 50%, the savings would amount to $600,000.00. This temporary reduction should focus on adult books and entertainment DVDs. When the next governor reinstates LGA, the materials budget will return to current levels.

4. Eliminate the Cap on Late Fees (estimated revenues = $50,000.00)

Eliminating the cap on the amount of a fine that can accrue against an individual would result in an estimated $50,000.00. This was an alternative considered by the library director, but was not incorporated into the final budget proposal.

5. Reduce Postage (estimated savings = $20,000.00)

Decreasing mailed materials for a savings on postage would result in an estimated cost savings of $20,000. This was a savings considered by the library director, but was not included in the final recommended plan for budget reductions.

6. Room Rental Fee (estimated revenue = $30,000.00 - $50,000.00)

Similar to Parks and Rec, SPPL could charge a minimal fee to reserve meeting rooms. 3,472 non-library meeting room events took place in 2008. If every library that does not charge a fee, (or does not charge a fee to non-profit groups) instituted a $10 meeting-room fee, SPPL would generate approximately $30,000 in additional revenue. A $15 meeting-room fee would result in $50,000 in additional revenue. A limited number of libraries already charge a fee to rent rooms, so this would simply expand an existing policy to the entire library system.

7. Increase Late Fees for Adult Materials by 25% (estimated revenue = $82,660.00)

The current budget states that the City of Saint Paul generates $275,642.00 from fines on adult materials and $55,000.00 from lost and damaged materials. Increasing these fees by 25% would result in an additional $82,660.00.

8. Fee for Interlibrary Loan Requests (estimated revenue = $15,426.00)

There were 20,569 requests from library customers for books from other libraries. Charging seventy-five cents for this service would result in an additional $15,426.00.

9. Late Fees for Children’s Materials (estimated revenue = $206,250.00)

Currently the City of Saint Paul is one of the only library systems in the Twin Cities metropolitan area that fails to impose a late fee for children’s materials. Both the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County charge five cents per day for overdue children’s materials. Ramsey County charges ten cents a day. Dakota County charges five cents a day, with a $2 maximum for children’s books, but imposes a $1 per day overdue fee for children’s entertainment videos. St. Paul could add a daily fee for overdue children’s materials equal to the current daily fee for overdue adult materials, Although no statistics were available related to the number of overdue children’s materials, assuming the number equaled 75% of the overdue adult materials, the total would be approximately $206,250.00.

10. $1 Rental Fee for “New” Entertainment Videos (estimated revenue = $20,000.00)

Dakota County charges $1.00 per day for new entertainment videos. Specific statistics related to circulation of “new” entertainment videos were not available. Assuming, however, that patrons rent 100 new entertainment videos for 200 days each, this proposal would generate $20,000.00.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Facebook Group Grows To 235

The Save the Hamline Midway Library Facebook group has grown to 235, keep it going...

Tuesday Library Fest and Mayor Meeting

From Carrie:

It's really important that we all show up at the meeting with the mayor and library director at Hamline-Midway Library, 6-8 pm on Tuesday, March 10. But let's have fun while we're at it.

Please come to a community celebration in front of the library starting at 5:30. We'll have hot cider and treats and family-friendly local music starting around 5:45.

Wear red, bring signs and balloons, and be sure to invite friends.

Baked goodies to share are welcome, too!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Statistics and Alternatives

1. The Hamline Midway Library provides highly cost-effective services.

With a small staff, and small square footage, the H-M Library compares favorably with other branches in terms of services provided:

• 4th in gate count per FTE;
• 4th in number of non-library meeting room events;
• 5th in circulation per FTE;
• 5th in information and reference provided per FTE;
• 5th in number of adult attendance at library programs;
• 8th in number of juvenile attendance at library programs.

The Hamline Midway Library also ranks 1st in the number of patrons who walk to the library!

2. Most of the savings incurred in closing Hamline Midway would be related to FTE.

FTE stands for a "Full Time Employee," which is the bulk of the cost for running the Hamline Midway Library.

• Closing HM Library saves $345,000.00 / year.
• $332,230.00 of HM Library yearly costs are related to FTE.
• Only $12,932.00 of yearly HM Library costs are related to building maintenance.
• Reduction of FTE costs can be accomplished without closing any single facility.

3. Alternatives to closing Hamline Midway Library.

Our goal is to reduce overall library costs without closing the Hamline Midway Library.

Alternatives to consider include:

• Supplement FTE with volunteers or work-study students, both at HM Library and the other small branches;
• Reducing hours or days of operation across the library system;
• Raising private / community funds to cover materials costs (including donation bins, such as those at Como Zoo).

We are in the process of working with the Library Director to obtain more specific data in order to provide more specific (dollar amount) proposals.

In summary, closing Hamline-Midway Library would save a minimal amount in building maintenance ($12,932.00 / year) while having a disproportionate negative impact on our neighborhood's culture, livability, property values, and economy. Reduction of FTE costs can be accomplished more equitably than closing an entire facility in one neighborhood.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Save Our Library Video

Restore Local Government Aid Press Conference

Glen Fladeboe, who is working with the City of St. Paul and the
Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, called today about a
campaign being launched to publicize the impact of local government
aid cuts. The goal is to restore local government aid funding.

If local government aid is restored, our library is saved.

The campaign will hold a 15-minute press conference this Friday, Feb.
27, 11:30 am in Room 125 of the State Capitol Building. Glen asked
me to spread the word and encourage people to attend with their
children and signs about the library. The campaign's website is

Thanks in advance, and PLEASE spread the word. I know this is short notice, but any presence there would be helpful--and don't forget to bring signs and WEAR RED.