The Royal Oak Public Library’s hours will be changing beginning the first week of June. The new library hours will be: Monday and Wednesday 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM; Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 noon – 9:00 PM; Friday and Saturday 10 AM:00 – 6:00 PM. This is a reduction of four hours - from the current 60 hours a week to 56. Additionally, in June library overdue fines will increase from 15 cents to 25 cents per day. Overdue fines can be avoided by renewing materials online, dropping them off 24/7 at the outside drop boxes, or renewing by phone during library hours at (248) 246-3700. The threshold for a library card being blocked because of outstanding fines will be changed from the current $10 to $5. The Royal Oak Public Library Board of Trustees voted to make these changes now to avoid the potential for more drastic cost saving measures in the future.
The Library derives over 90% of its funding from the one mil dedicated library millage passed in 2003 by the voters of Royal Oak. The millage is based on property values which have declined significantly since the millage was passed. Other sources of revenue including state aid to libraries have also decreased. In 2009, the Library Board initiated a major on-going fund raising campaign which has received almost $85,000 in donations. In addition, the Board has made several difficult decisions to avoid a reduction in service to the public. These include a hiring freeze, employee wage and benefit concessions, book and media budget reductions, and measures designed to generate additional revenue such as rental fees for feature DVDs. These measures made it possible to retain the current hours that the Library is open to the public. Since 2009, the number of library cardholders has increased by 13% and lending transactions by 14%, but revenues have declined by over $300,000 or about 15% of the library’s budget.
Faced with a fiscal year 2012/2013 budget shortfall, the Library Board of Trustees voted to use part of the Library’s reserve funds for operating expenditures and made the decision to reduce weekly hours to continue to provide highest quality of service to the public. On a positive note, the available economic projections suggest a gradual increase in property values over the next few years. On a cautious note, state legislation is currently being considered which would eliminate personal property tax (PPT) and unless legislative provisions are made to replace the revenues generated by PPT, its elimination would further erode the revenues generated by the library millage. The Library Board is carefully monitoring the Library’s fiscal health and plans to restore the Tuesday and Thursday morning hours along with reevaluating the possibility of Sunday hours when revenues improve to a level that makes this viable.
Despite the difficult economic times, the Library continues to provide full library service six days a week, and lends out nearly half a million items each year, including both print and non-print formats such as e-books, audio books, feature DVD’s, music CD’s, and books on CD. In addition, the Library provides many resources including Mango Languages (foreign language learning), Learning Express test preparation (which includes ACT, TOEFL, and other standardized test practice sessions) and many other resources and useful databases, all accessible from home via the user-friendly website at www.ropl.org. The summer reading program will kick off on Saturday, June 9 with many activities at the library and the Butterfly Garden will be dedicated on Saturday, June 23 at noon. See details of these events in other articles on ropl.org.