Library Levy

Year 1 Levy report header graphic

Baby at the downtown librarySince its creation nearly 120 years ago, Eugene Public Library has been a pillar of our city. The library’s mission has been 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. Through the ebbs and flows of life, the library has remained a place of sanctuary. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, we continued to provide access to programs, services, materials and technology – even if it was at a reduced level. We changed the way we served and met people’s needs, and even with limited hours, our locations remained some of the most visited and utilized places in the city. People said the library was a lifeline for them during the long months of the pandemic.

This levy report covers the time period of July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022, which includes part of the second year of the pandemic and the months of reopening and increasing of services. 

As vaccines became available and infection numbers dwindled, we started to bring back offerings that were suspended. This is the first year of a new five-year operating levy passed by Eugene voters by an overwhelming 76%.

As you will read, FY21-22 was about bringing services back to a pre-pandemic level. About opening our doors and welcoming people back. While our digital doors never closed, our in-person offerings were limited, and we worked diligently to bring back beloved programs like storytimes. We continued the work of upholding our promise to voters by increasing access to materials and technology through our Library of Things. We also have been working to diversify our collection to better represent our diverse population. 

The library is a place for everyone. 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.

  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. As we emerged from the restrictions of the pandemic, we did that, providing increased opportunities for cardholders to borrow materials and use resources.

Family doing an activity at the libraryOn Nov. 1, 2021, we expanded open hours in a return to our pre-pandemic hours. We again opened the Downtown Library on Sundays and both branches again offered evening hours. When added to the increased access we provided to virtual offerings, our community has more opportunities than ever.

One of the biggest impacts of pandemic restrictions was on physical visitors. In FY21 we saw just under 189,000 people in our facilities. With the loosening of rules, we saw a flood of people in FY22 that pushed our visits to 505,270. The largest gain was at the Downtown Library where visits more than doubled in a year. For perspective, before the pandemic, we had more than 1.1 million visits. While it may seem as if things are returning to normal, there is still work to be done.

During the past year we also increased registered users by 7,441. The total number of cardholders in FY22 was 112,695.

Staff participated in a variety of outreach events, including the 10-day Downtown Riverfront Festival that ran during the World Athletics Championships in July 2022 hosted at Hayward Field. Additionally, staff were at events for Juneteenth, Pride, the Asian Celebration and multiple school and neighborhood gatherings. In all, we attended 175 offsite programs.

Every day, we continue to build partnerships to increase this access. The Friends of the Eugene Public Library and Eugene Public Library Foundation are partners in this work, and recently our relationships with both Bethel and 4J school districts yielded even more opportunities for vulnerable, underserved and unhoused populations around our community.

Staff helping family at service counterA Place for Everyone

The library is a place for anyone, and a few policy shifts make this even more true now. In May 2022, we announced the library would no longer charge overdue fines and any existing fines were removed from accounts. This follows the move in 2020 when we stopped charging overdue fines for children’s and teen items.

The risk of incurring those fines also led people to borrow fewer items or not use our services at all.

“Eugene Public Library’s mission is to make books and other items and services easily available to the community,” Library Director Will O’Hearn said. "Overdue fines can get in the way. Plus, the fines can easily add up, especially for anyone already facing financial challenges.”

In another expansion, we now issue free cards to all children from birth to kindergarten in 4J and Bethel school districts, even if they live outside city limits. Since 2020 all students have been able to receive a free card, and this expansion waives the usual  nonresident fee. This increased access to 1,200 students and 460 young children combined.

Total Circulation 2.57 millionTotal circulation increased by nearly 1 million from 1.64 million to 2.57 million. A big reason for this was the implementation of auto-renewals. Automatically renewing an item increases access and equity because it allows people who can’t make it to the library regularly to keep materials until they are finished with them.

All three locations saw large increases in circulation, with the Downtown Library doubling from FY21 to FY22.

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.

City Council Work Session: December 14, 2022 - Year 1 Levy Report Presentation

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

Year 1 Levy Report