Monday, April 2, 2012

Library Budget Hearing: No plea for more money.

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Tricia Racke Bengel, the interim Director made the presentation. In the past year, the Goodlettsville branch opened and new branches are planned. More programs occurred with more participation. We project about 6000 programs for the coming year. More books and movies are being checked out. Some 15,000 students who did not previously have library cards, now have them. We are expanding digital learning labs. The "flood project" continues to move foreward to achieve the 2010 flood. Our website is now our fourth busiest "location. There is a big demand for digital, downloadable books. We are busier than ever before. With a 2% budget reduction we would have to cut 7 1/2 position and close a small branch library. She does not say which branch.

My View: Closing any existing branch will be opposed by patrons of that branch even though at times as new branches open, some old branches should close.  Whoever the Council Member is representing the neighborhood with the branch proposed to be closed, will be expected by patrons of that branch to fight to keep it open. Closing one branch is a less a painful way of making cuts than other alternatives. Often, when an administration seeks a tax hike, they threaten that without the hike, all libraries will have to close a half day a week or a day a week. Along with community centers, and brush collection, libraries are one of the services most often held hostage to a tax hike. The administration is to be commended for not resorting to that old ploy.

Having watched a lot of these budget hearing, I must say that I do not feel that the administration is playing games. I think we are getting honest presentations of the cities needs. That is not to say that I think all budget increases should be granted or that I am prepared to support a tax hike, but I do not feel we are witnessing inflated doom and gloom scenarios designed to force a tax hike.

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