Letter to our editor: Makula defends budget cuts in the Niles-Maine district library

Editor, Journal:

In order to clear up any confusion that may exist regarding the 2021-22 budget for the Niles-Maine library, I would like to assure our clients, residents and ratepayers that our library will continue to serve our community as it has done over the past six decades, but on a more efficient and effective path. The 2021-2022 budget provides adequate resources and direction to fully serve our clients during the 54 hours of operation of the library.

Currently, library traffic and visits are at reduced levels due to COVID and a long-term downward trend in library use. Our budget allocates adequate staff to serve clients and continue the many library programs that have already existed.

We have a large and up-to-date inventory of books, audio-video, periodicals, online databases, reference resources, magazines and newspapers. The 2021-2022 budget allocates $ 663,960 in purchases of new materials that will keep our inventory fresh.

Any material requested by a client, which is not in our inventory, or checked out and not available, will be available through a cooperative agreement that the Niles library has with other libraries and should be available the next day.

In addition, daycares, preschools and schools in our district will be invited to “invest in their students” and take them to the library for a short excursion to introduce them to all that our library has to offer. A picture is worth a thousand words, a hands-on experience is worth ten thousand words, and imprints in their memory how great a place the library is. Hopefully, they’ll come back or ask their parents to take them to the library.

We expect to see efficiencies in the handling and re-shelving of materials, streamlining of material ordering procedures, and possibly the consolidation of similar low-traffic programs. Our newsletter will be eight pages long and mailed to all residents quarterly, and continually updated online.

Our outreach service will continue to deliver materials ordered by our disabled and homebound residents. Nursing homes, preschools and schools will be responsible for the collection, return and missing materials.

In recent years, the library has installed technological advances; automated recording and sorting of returned materials, electronic digitization of withdrawn materials, self-checking, computers instead of maintaining a catalog of cards, all advancements saving labor. Most customers can and do serve themselves and need no help finding what they want and navigating the library the same way customers do in a store.

The former library board has delegated many of its responsibilities, leaving budgeting to library staff with minimal input, oversight or due diligence. The budget for library 21-22 is $ 5,907,244. It cuts operating expenses by around 11%, which is far less than the current broadcast cut. This is a minor and long-needed restructuring of operations and spending that previous councils neglected to do incrementally.

Since the expected tax revenue of $ 6,691,600 is $ 700,000 higher than the budgeted expenditure, the tax levy will not be increased and may be reduced accordingly.

Joe makula

Board trustee and treasurer

Niles-Maine District Library

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