The City of Jacksonville Fiscal Year 2014 budget was approved by the City Council on Sept. 25. An amendment and earlier action by the City Council Finance Committee restored several cuts to the library’s budget, including funding for six branch libraries, Saturday hours at the Main Library, and 33 staff positions. However, the $173,370 cut to the library materials budget remains.
The council action brings the library back to the same service level as the year just ended (2012-13). However, the 2012-13 year represents a 22% cut from the previous year. We look forward to working with the mayor’s administration, City Council and library supporters to return the library to 2011 levels of service with 1112 hours per week versus the current 868 hours of service per week. This would increase access an additional day of the week at most locations.
The Jacksonville Public Library appreciates the support of council members who, under the leadership of library ex officio board members Council President Bill Gulliford and Finance Committee Chair Greg Anderson, voted to keep Jacksonville libraries open. We also want to thank the Board of Library Trustees, our Friends groups and all who expressed their support of our libraries to their Council member. Your ongoing dedication to funding for public libraries is greatly appreciated.
Students from Lone Star Elementary fill the City Council Chamber.
We are also grateful to the more than 100 third graders from Lone Star Elementary who attended a recent Finance Committee meeting to speak out in support of libraries. Each carried a favorite book. Several students gave impassioned speeches about why the libraries should not be closed and how their lives would be negatively impacted without a library. It was a heartwarming scene and no doubt made an impression on the council members.
We appreciate the support of so many people in our community who value public libraries. Thank you!