“For the first time since 2008, seven Dallas library branches are open seven days a week, and more could follow. Public libraries have been fighting for years to stay relevant—a challenge in the face of deep budget cuts. “The library has become, really savvy and really nimble to be able to respond to the needs of the community because they had to,” said Kate Park, of the nonprofit Friends of the Dallas Public Library.” (via WFAA)
“If the city won’t give money to Dallas libraries, maybe the community will. Thursday was North Texas Giving Day, which means Friends of the Dallas Public Libraries, along with other north Texas do-gooder groups, were busy rattling their tin cans for spare change to raise money that, in the library’s case, the city should already be providing. Last month, city staff released the budget plan for the next fiscal year. After several rounds of negotiations, the city settled on an additional $3.8 million to go toward the library budget. The raise comes after years of cuts, steadily driving the annual budget from $32 million in 2008 to last year’s budget of $22 million.” (via Dallas Observer)
“On Wednesday, book lovers from across the city showed up in force at the Dallas City Council meeting. It was the first time council members were able to throw amendments at the proposed city budget for the next fiscal year. And supporters of Dallas Public Libraries wanted them to carefully consider the library budget in their decision-making. After half a decade of budget cuts, Dallas’ library system has some of the most limited operation hours of any city library system in the country. It catching up to do if it is to restore competitive hours — that is, more than 40 hours per week — and standard facility operations. This last fiscal year, the City of Dallas spent $18.29 per person on its libraries. Houston spent $18.26. Houston’s is the worst funded library system in the country. Dallas’ is the second-worst.” (via Dallas Observer)
“In a rare decision during a nonrecession year, Dallas’ city manager is proposing a slight reduction in the number of police officers next fiscal year. Under the proposed budget unveiled Friday by City Manager A.C. Gonzalez, the Police Department’s sworn ranks would shrink by about 35 through attrition. That modest reduction — the force has more than 3,500 officers — is part of a broader effort to shave the department’s budget and use the savings to pay for other services that have shrunk in recent years, Gonzalez said.” The beneficiaries would include libraries, streets and animal services.” (via Dallas Morning News)
“All around Dallas, mini-libraries resembling large mailboxes or outdoor cabinets are popping up for residents to use. The concept is a simple one, need a book, take a book; have a book, leave a book. The literacy effort, called Libros Libres or Little Free Libraries, is organized by the Wisconsin nonprofit that carries the same name, Big Thought, bcWORKSHOP and the Dallas Public Library. Cheerios is also a significant donor and sponsor.” (via UPI.com)
“Gregorio Travoli spends his nights lying in a tent in downtown Dallas and most of his days at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library on Young Street. Travoli said he has visited the library for the past 15 to 20 years. He isn’t the only homeless person to call this branch his own; many of its patrons are homeless. And the library’s staff has started to welcome them in a new way. Coffee and Conversations, a one-hour session that caters to homeless people, is the brainchild of Jo Giudice, who became the director of the Dallas Public Library system last year. Giudice’s office is at the central branch.” (via Dallas Morning News)
“There’s a briefing for council today on whether or not our public library system sucks. Looks like the verdict will be that it does not totally suck, but it should, because we do. The briefing is based on a nationwide bench-marking system Dallas participates in with most other second-tier cities in the country, along with some third-tiers and some downright damn suburbs. The survey shows that we care about our libraries, visit them and use them at above average rates.Our visitation per capita, for example, is ahead of Phoenix, San Antonio and Miami-Dade but behind Austin and … no, c’mon. Arlington? They gotta mean Arlington, Virginia. I’ll have to watch. Maybe some sharp councilperson will raise that question. If Arlington, Texas goes to the library more than Dallas, Texas, then just shoot us.”
via Unfair Park
Dallas libraries already do a lot of amazing things that go well beyond loaning books. The perpetually under-funded system has a crack reference staff, hosts all kinds of training and seminars and public forums, and, oh yeah, is free to users. Dallas libraries want to do more, but that’s where the “perpetually under-funded” part comes in.
Today, the city announced an effort to do something about that. Council member Ann Margolin and Atmos Energy’s Sandra Doyle are leading a team to recruit corporate partners to help fund several needs at the library. It’s called, appropriately enough, Corporate Partners for the Dallas Public Library.”
via City Hall Blog
“Libraries, as we already know, have not been spared City Manager Mary Suhm’s budget cleaver in recent years. The library budget has been chopped and quartered like perhaps no other city department, having been sliced in half since peaking at $36 million peak in 2007. That’s decimated staffing levels, hours of operation, materials budget — just about everything.”
via Dallas Observer.