The Royal Oak Public Library's services continue to be highly valued by the community in these trying economic times. The Library is open six days a week, 60 hours a week, providing a variety of services to more than 30,000 ROPL library cardholders who check out more than 400,000 items a year. The Library hosted more than 550 programs attended by 16,000 people. Library usage has increased significantly over the past several years and continues to grow.
Many rumors are circulating as cities and public libraries in southeastern Michigan face cutbacks in funding with resultant cutbacks in service. The situation at Royal Oak Public Library is not rosy, but it is secure. Thanks to the voters in Royal Oak, a dedicated library millage was passed in November 2003. This millage provides over 90% of our operating revenue and made possible a complete renovation of the building in 2006. We have a lovely building and a dedicated source of revenue.
However, like any millage, the amount of revenue it generates is based on local property values and those have decreased, so our millage revenue has decreased significantly, along with almost all of our other sources of revenue including state aid to libraries. We anticipate a 10% decline in revenue in the next fiscal year and an additional 10% in the 2011/2012 fiscal year. We have always had a lean budget, so finding areas to cut in order to produce a balanced budget for fiscal year 2010/2011 has been difficult. We have been able to do this without cutting hours and without cutting programs. The Friends of the Royal Oak Public Library are very active, and their fundraising efforts make possible the extensive free programs offered by ROPL. Staffing is tighter because the head of youth services position will remain unfilled. The amount of money spent on new materials including books, audio books, DVDs, and electronic databases has been cut significantly.
Two changes will go into effect on June 15. They were a part of the Library Board's carefully considered budget making process.
All one-week loan DVDs will now have a rental charge of $1 for ROPL cardholders and $2 for others. Because of the cuts that were made in the collection development funds, purchases of DVDs have been cut drastically. The rental revenue generated will go back into purchasing circulating materials, including DVDs.
The four week loan period that went into effect last September will return to a three week loan period starting on June 15. Two renewals are still allowed unless there is a hold list for the item. This change will allow greater "turnover" of the material, making it more likely that library visitors will find exactly what they are looking for on the shelves.
I am very proud of the services that the Royal Oak Public Library provides. We are always looking for ways to improve and economize. Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments, and suggestions. I can be reached at 248-246-3710.
Mary Karshner, Library Director