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Libraries open longer, sooner
by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim seems in good shape for the North Olympic Library System’s future.
Along with approving a $4.1 million budget on Monday, Nov. 28, the libraries’ board of trustees voted to open all four branches with more hours sooner than expected.
Originally planned for early 2012, the Sequim Library’s new hours start Monday, Dec. 12: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. The branch-wide increase follows the NOLS 2012 plan, a 10-year business plan approved by voters as part of a levy-lid lift in August 2010.
“We were very determined,” said Paula Barnes, NOLS executive director.
“That’s the No. 1 thing people continued to ask for at all libraries. We’ve been trying to get all the positions restored. Most of the positions we’ve been restoring were lost in the early 2000s due to budget cuts.”
The Port Angeles Library and Sequim follow the same hours while Clallam Bay opens from four days to six days a week and Forks offers six days a week with a full Saturday year-round.
Barnes said opening on Sunday is in high demand, but limited funds don’t make it feasible right now.
Next year’s $4.1 million budget decreases nearly $208,000 from 2011 due to declining assessed property valuation. The Clallam County Assessor’s office told the libraries to anticipate a 6-percent reduction instead of a 2-percent decrease.
More hours and materials, almost a 4-percent increase for books, movies, etc., are attributed to the board of trustees carrying through with the NOLS 2012 plan. The libraries are locked in to collect property tax revenues next year because of passing their levy lid lift to its maximum 50 cents per $1,000 assessed property valuation.
Trustees voted to allocate $152,000 from the Reserve for Economic Uncertainty fund to cover the shortfall from the property valuation, from which libraries receive nearly all their funding.
Barnes said there weren’t many changes in the budget from late October except that they found savings in their shipping costs between branches because of their new floating collection. When a patron checks out an item and returns it, the item remains in that branch regardless of the branch it’s from.
For the Sequim Library, $20,000 remains allocated to conduct a study on an expansion design. Barnes said the soonest work could start is fall 2012, which trustees want to do.
Design work could take up to two years to complete a public-approved design for approval by voters.
The Forks Library was to see work on a new roof begin this year, but fundraising efforts are under way to fund the project entirely by a local community group. Timber reserves worth about $200,000 this year are expected to support the project. The 2012 budget has $100,000 set aside but work isn’t anticipated to begin in 2012, Barnes said.
Other notable budget items for 2012 include $25,000 for a new phone system in all branches and $41,000 for a new van.
Friends groups of the four libraries are anticipated to give grants worth nearly $47,000 to the libraries. The Friends of Sequim Library help pay for artist receptions, summer reading programs, outdoor programs and more.
For more information on NOLS, visit www.nols.org or call the Sequim Library, 630 N. Sequim Ave., at 683-1162.
Reach Matthew Nash at email@example.com.