Library Levy

Year 5 Levy Report Measure 20-235

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In 2015, voters approved a five-year operating levy (Measure 20-235) to fund expanded services, increased hours, free programs and materials and technology. In 2020, voters approved Measure 20-309, which supports these services for an additional five years. No matter what you are looking for, EPL strives to help you find your next adventure. This report covers the time period of July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.


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Eugene Public Library has been a cornerstone of our community for nearly 120 years. Throughout that time, the Library has supported an informed community, lifelong learning and the love of reading by providing access for all city residents to a universe of ideas.


In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that dedication hasn’t waivered, though we have had to change the way we serve and meet the community’s needs. Even with reduced open hours at our locations, EPL has remained one of the most visited and utilized places in Eugene, and many people shared the library has been a “lifeline” during the pandemic.


This levy report covers the time period of July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, which falls squarely in the pandemic. During this time the Library worked to pivot services to respond to changing COVID-19 restrictions.


Our 2021 numbers continue to reflect some limits to hours, services and in-person programming. While the traditional circulation of books and resources changed, our virtual doors never closed. Over the course of the pandemic, Eugene Public Library has worked to increase digital access to address specific community gaps that align with our levy goals of access, programs, materials and technology. This included providing online programs, giving broader access to library resources for youth and when it was safe to do so, bringing back more traditional borrowing and some in-person programs.


The Library is a place for everyone, whether it be in person or virtually. We provide free cultural and educational programs for all ages that support a lifelong love of reading and provide a focus on literacy and informing our community. Your Library card is now more powerful than ever.


Eugene Public Library continues to serve our community, adjusting operations to provide safe access to resources that people of all ages and walks of life depend on.

  1. More Hours & Access
  2. More Programs & Services
  3. More Materials & Technology
  4. Accountability & Transparency

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Access to services and resources are central to our mission at Eugene Public Library. Whether in person or online, access to free materials helps create an informed community.


Our Levy Promise

More Hours and Access kid with library cardOur levy promise was to increase hours (22 hours/week) at Bethel and Sheldon branches and restore Sunday morning hours at the Downtown Library. We did that, providing increased opportunities for cardholders to borrow materials and use resources.


COVID-19 restrictions, though, affected our open hours and access. Statewide restrictions closed our physical doors in mid-March 2020, and we quickly worked on increasing our digital access. To continue safely circulating materials, we began curbside pickup on June 15, 2020. We were able to reopen our physical locations Aug. 24, 2020 and returned the ability to physically browse the collection April 19, 2021.


One of the largest impacts of these restrictions was on physical visitors. In 2020, we had just under 189,000 visits to our three locations (118,000 downtown, 71,000 at the branch locations). In a typical year, the library system experiences more than 1 million visitors. As our hours return to pre-pandemic levels, we are seeing patron use increase, and the Library’s average daily visitor count (for all three locations) almost doubled from September 2020 to June 2021.


During this year we added 4,455 new cardholders. The total number of cardholders in FY 2021 was 105,254.


EPL continues to reach beyond our building. Staff participated in a variety of outreach events and programs, including programs with Food for Lane County. Additionally, EPL supplied books to social service organizations such as the NAACP. In FY 2021, staff participated in 63 offsite programs that reached more than 1,500 people.


The Library also worked to increase access for vulnerable and unhoused populations by using the Library’s van to provide temporary internet hotspots in other locations around our community to help folks apply for stimulus support and other pandemic-related aid. Every day, we continue to build partnerships to increase this access even more in the future.

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Access Remains a Top Priority for EPL

During FY21, EPL collaborated with the Eugene Public Library Foundation and the 4J and Bethel school districts to expand library access to all district students, regardless of residency. Access for all students is a particular focus because a key indicator for future academic and professional success is the ability to read at or above grade level in third grade. Currently, approximately 50% of Eugene third graders read below grade level.


Starting in September 2020, every student in the Eugene and Bethel school districts became eligible for a free Eugene Public Library card, including those who live outside city limits. The Library has signed up more than 1,500 new students through this program.


This waiving of the usual non-resident library card fee was made possible by a three-year pilot partnership of the Eugene Public Library Foundation, Eugene Public Library, Eugene School District 4J and Bethel Public Schools. Because the cost of a non-resident library card is prohibitive for some families, some youth that attend Eugene schools have not been able to have a library card even though their classmates and friends do.


A Eugene Public Library card provides access to many resources that promote success in school and beyond. The Library offers students opportunities including ongoing development of reading skills, researching school projects, building study skills, working with live online tutors and more. In addition to serving as a key to a universe of information and educational support in print and online, a library card offers nearly limitless opportunities to read for pleasure and enjoy movies, music, magazines and more at no cost.


This report shows one side of the levy story. The greater picture, though, shows how access to programs, materials and resources contribute to a more informed and engaged community. This is evident in countless stories from the public.


After all, libraries are not just about books, they are about people. The extended levy services helped Eugene Public Library meet the needs of the community even while we continue to adjust during the pandemic. Library staff, partners and volunteers spend every day supporting an informed community and fostering lifelong learning and a love for

reading. That’s at the heart of our work.


We’re committed to free access to the universe of ideas and information for our community

as we serve through changing times. That dedication allows EPL to adapt and remain essential to the lives of residents, and it keeps the Library a truly public space.


In November 2020, Eugene voters overwhelmingly supported the passage of Measure 20-309, which provides an additional five years of support for EPL services.

Specific plans are built into the levy to ensure accountability and transparency, including: separate levy fund budget and accounting (as per state law); annual staff summary of spending and performance measures; annual review by the citizen Library Advisory Board; and an annual City Manager’s report to City Council.


City Council Work Session: January 12, 2022 - Year 5 Levy Report Presentation


Regular updates will be posted here on the Library’s website. Printable pdf files are provided below.

Year 1 Levy Report

Year 2 Levy Report

Year 3 Levy Report

Year 4 Levy Report

Year 5 Levy Report

Staff waving at patron wearing mask