Library Levy

Year 2 Levy Report graphic

Year 2 Levy Report cover image

A core tenant of Library Services has always been its spaces are for everyone. A place for people to find refuge, a warm place to sit out of the elements, a place to find entertainment, education or like-minded people. For nearly 120 years, Eugene Public Library has been a pillar of our city. Staff have strived to support an informed community, foster lifelong learning and instill the love of reading by providing access to a universe of ideas to everyone.


That dedication hasn’t wavered. We are still emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic and its many effects, each day bringing seemingly new challenges to overcome. We have changed the way we served and met people’s needs since 2020, but we have continued to work on giving our community the support and access it has told us it wants.


This levy report covers the time period of July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023. EPL staff have continued to bring back offerings that were suspended, reinvigorate youth offerings and find new, creative ways to provide services during budget and staffing uncertainty. This timeframe is also the second year of the five-year operating levy passed by Eugene voters by an overwhelming 76 percent. This year we took time to reengage with the work and create updated mission, vision and value statements. We also did a large outreach campaign and heard from more than 4,000 community members. The goal of both initiatives was to connect more closely with what we experience every day from those who pass through our doors. It was a long, important process that will guide our future work. From talking about our core values of continuing to provide compassionate, patron-first service to working together to create a community where people matter, we led thinking about Eugene first.


In the end we chose “providing equitable resources and opportunities for everyone to create a connected, caring and inspired community” as our mission statement. We think it fits the bill at this moment in time. Challenges are on the horizon, but our dedication to building Eugene up has not. We have increased who has access to library cards in a variety of ways and are pushing for more. We are always expanding and updating our selections and helping our town’s youth find safe places to just be.


We’ve said it before and will continue to say: your library card, now more than ever, is more powerful.

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

Hours and Access graphic


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


Our Levy Promise

Our levy promise was to maintain the existing level of library services funded by the 2015 levy. We promised to preserve 47 open hours a week across the Downtown Library and Bethel and Sheldon branches. We did that in year one of the 2020 levy renewal and we continued to provide the same level of hours in FY23, giving increased opportunities for cardholders to borrow materials and use resources.


Hours and Access woman selecting booksWe saw an increase in visitors this past year to 826, 982 across our three facilities. For comparison, in FY22 we had 505,270 people pass through our doors.


For perspective, before the pandemic we had more than 1.1 million visits. We are continuing to make great strides in bringing more people back through our doors. Every facility saw modest to significant increases in traffic. The Downtown Library continued to rush toward pre-COVID numbers, jumping by 79.1 percent in annual visits. Bethel Branch also saw a robust increase at 20.9 percent over FY22, while Sheldon had an increase of 5.4 percent.


During the past year we also increased registered users by 8,860. The total number of cardholders in FY23 was 98,497. An astute observer might recall the number of registered users in FY22 was 112,695. The cause for the difference is long-time inactive users were purged from the system.


Staff continued to go into the community for outreach opportunities, attending large events like the Black Cultural Festival, Pride and arts and cultural events at the Farmers Market Pavilion. All told staff went to 169 events with the sole purpose of outreach. Staffing these large outreach events continues to be a challenge in the face of budget reductions, and EPL is currently working on how to continue outreach efforts to keep the library out in the community where it belongs.


Every day we build partnerships to increase access. The Friends of the Eugene Public Library and Eugene Public Library Foundation are partners in this work. Through the years our partnerships have yielded greater access in programs like providing wireless hotspots to check out. In FY23 we continued this strong work by purchasing isopods for Sheldon Branch. We also collaborated again with Eugene 4J to provide library cards to children ages 0-5 who live outside of the city limits but who attend school in town.


Hours and Access CirculationCreating Places for Teens

Teens in our community are an underserved population and outside of school don’t have many places where they can commune and be with materials catered to their interests and needs. Eugene Public Library features intentionally designed spaces, services and activities for teens at all three locations. These places include things you might expect, like computers, curated books and multimedia materials like video games and movies, but also other greatly needed things like toiletries. These comfort cabinets have person hygiene items that some teens don’t consistently have access to at home.


All three locations recently updated their teen spaces to be even more inclusive and safe. For example, Bethel Branch staff moved teen materials into the vault room so they could have a more private space, and at the Downtown Library, a glass partition was installed so teens can be their normal, sometimes  loud selves without worry of disturbing other patrons. 


“Teens are super creative, they’re funny, it’s just always super delightful to see the wonderful adults they’re becoming,” Teen Librarian Caitlin McMahan says. “This is like a special area of the library.”


Total Circulation items 2.71 million

Circulation

We continued to see an increase in circulation across the system, with a 5.4 percent growth. Downtown and virtual circulation were particularly strong as we continue to provide more materials for digital consumption.


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 us 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 Eugene Public Library to adapt and remain essential to the lives of residents, and keeps our library a truly public place.

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.


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

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