Though exact details of how the Dearborn Public Library will be funded beyond are still a mystery, Mayor Jack O'Reilly told library officials at Thursday afternoon's budget session that he has no intention to propose the closure of either the or branches for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
"I do not intend to recommend the closure of any libraries for this year," O'Reilly said at Thursday.
This is not a guarantee that the library will receive the full $1.6 million in general fund dollars it has requested to keep both branches and the up and running; rather, it means that O'Reilly will not include a closure of a branch in the budget proposal he will present to City Council later this year.
Library Director Maryanne Bartles presented the city with a rundown of library statistics and budget estimates at Thursday's meeting. Among them were numbers showing that more than 33,000 Dearborn residents hold library cards, and that 447,827 people visited the libraries in FY 2011.
Budget estimates totaling just under $5 million for all three libraries, explained Bartles, include around $250,000 in capital improvement projects. The largest of those expenses–around $200,000–would be a new roof for HFCL, which is starting to leak.
Additionally, there are plans to renovate the mezzanine of HFCL to create more public use space. Staff would be moved into the vacant Health Department offices on the first floor of the building.
Mayor O'Reilly championed the mezzanine improvement, highlighting the fact that it will create more space for students and those wishing to use computers.
"(The renovation) will really enhance electronic connections and a better way to provide what individual populations need, like school-aged children," he said. "It’ll give us more capacity in our highest demand area."
Despite apparent city support of the capital improvements, Bartles expressed her trepidation over funding for the continued renovation costs–which could also include new doors for HFCL in the near future.
“My concern is that with those types of expenses, how do we manage them for the next 10 years?” Bartles asked.
O'Reilly expressed that with all department funding requests, "we're going to allocate what we have according to the highest need."
"That will include the library," he added, "but it's not a wish list."
Beyond looking at budget numbers, the city applauded Bartles and the library system for continuing to show growth of use, even as funds have been continually cut.
A comparison analysis prepared by Library Commission Chair Marcel Pultorak shows that while staff, hours of operation and the materials budget are down from 2001 numbers, use is up.
Active library cardholders were up 14.6 percent (33,774 to 38,731); program attendance was up 46 percent (13,358 to 19,515); and holds on materials were up 48 percent (78,871 to 116,653) from 2001 to now.
“The staff have evolved different way of doing things," Bartles explained. "We’re targeting our programming better."