With 2020 less than a month away, leaders with the North Olympic Library System’s four branches anticipate another full slate of programs and plenty of new things to read and watch in the New Year.
Trustees from the West End, Port Angeles and Sequim unanimously approved the library system’s estimated $4.96 million budget on Nov. 21, which rises from about $4.56 million this year.
“There are always a lot of things going on,” NOLS Executive Director Margaret Jakubcin said.
“We’ve got a full slate for all ages, and we’re always trying new things (like Spanish story times and virtual reality).”
Big draws for library users remain books, movies, audio books and online databases, and, for 2020, library staff have budgeted a 1-percent increase from this year to $481,460, or about 9.8 percent of next year’s budget.
The slight increase follows trustees’ plan to grow the library system’s collection after voters approved a 2010 levy lid lift.
Library staff said next year’s materials budget will be 51.5 percent larger than the pre-levy 2010 materials budget.
Along with materials, programs remain intact for 2020 thanks to volunteer efforts.
Library staff estimate a cumulative gift of $84,550 from the Friends of the four library branches thanks to their book sales and other fundraisers. Their support accounts for about 90 percent of costs for programs such as the Summer Reading Program and guest speakers.
Jakubcin said they try to reiterate often how much the Friends groups mean to NOLS and its level of programming.
“We couldn’t begin to approach (funding programs) without the Friends groups and the work they do,” she said.
While offering more materials and programs, library staff hope this year’s plan to drop overdue charges encourages more users. They’ve lowered anticipated library fee collections next year to $25,500 following last August’s policy decision to eliminate overdue charges to lower barriers to using the libraries.
Patrons will still be charged for lost or damaged materials, however.
What happens with the libraries’ building maintenance and projects will be discussed in January 2020 as part of NOLS’s capital budget discussions.
Library staff said the library system’s capital budget generally aligns with timber/forest product revenues from the previous fiscal year. Next year’s estimated total was budgeted at $382,400 as of Oct. 31, library staff said, and that the capital budget is still in development.
Jakubcin said one of the potential projects includes repairing/re-configuring the Port Angeles Library’s parking lot to optimize it better.
Library staff plan to explore “long-term, temporary improvements” at the Sequim Library, such as re-configuring its space.
“We can’t do the big fix; we attempted that,” Jakubcin said.
Last February, trustees opted to wait until at least 2021 to pursue expansion at the Sequim Library. Their decision followed the 2018 General Election vote where a proposition for a $12.4 million bond to build a 17,000-square-foot library failed to meet the 60 percent supermajority at 58.6 percent. It would have expanded/rebuilt the existing 1983 library.
NOLS hosts library branches in Sequim, Port Angeles, Clallam Bay and Forks with 55.5 full-time equivalent staffers this year and in 2020, Jakubcin said.
Personnel account for about 73 percent of the 2020 budget, which includes state mandated increases to minimum wage laws — bringing minimum wages from $12 this year to $13.50 in 2020 and a rate to be determined by the state in 2021, based on cost-of-living adjustments.
Jakubcin said library staff continue to explore different partnerships and opportunities not reflected in the budget, too, such as planning for the libraries’ roles in disaster recovery.
“We’re always doing new things and taking new approaches,” she said.
For more information about the North Olympic Library System, visit www.nols.org.
Reach Matthew Nash at email@example.com.