On Monday, July 13, the Eugene City Council decided unanimously to place a five-year local option levy on the November 3 ballot to fund expanded services by Eugene Public Library.
The Library's existing level of services is currently supported by $10.6 million per year from the City of Eugene's General Fund (FY16), plus donation funds. The levy would add $2.7 million per year, for five years -- about $36 per year for the typical Eugene taxpayer.
If passed by the voters, the levy would fund the following enhanced services:
- Increase Eugene Public Library hours and access. The levy would add 22 hours each week at both Bethel and Sheldon Branches, bringing each to a total of 48 open hours across six days each week. The levy would also add 3 hours each week at the Downtown Library, restoring Sunday morning hours for a total of 64 hours across seven days.
- Increase free programming for all ages by 33%, with particular focus on:
- Support for young readers and their parents
- Activities for teens
- "Maker" opportunities (access to tools and skills training for individuals or small businesses, including new technologies)
- Increase access to materials and technology. An additional $300,000 per year would restore the materials budget to FY09 levels, ensuring wider accessibility as well as quicker availability for in-demand items. The levy would also fund additional technology, primarily tablets and/or laptops, to double access to the Internet access for community members at Bethel and Sheldon Branches.
Built into the levy are specific plans to ensure transparency and accountability in the use of levy funds, including: separate budgeting and accounting (in accordance with state law); a staff summary of spending and performance measures each year; a review by the citizen Library Advisory Board each year; and a report by the City Manager to the City Council each year. All documents would be available to the public.
In Fiscal Year 2014, Eugene Public Library served more than 3,000 visitors daily and processed nearly three million check-outs. The Library provided more than 1,800 programs, ranging from storytimes to classes to entertainment with approximately 55,000 community members of all ages attending these free events.
Monthly, the Library’s three locations provided over 75,000 wireless Internet sessions and 18,000 Internet computer user sessions. Current open hours at the Downtown Library are 61 hours across seven days, and at both Bethel and Sheldon Branches, 26 hours across five days each week. The Library has been nationally recognized for excellence in cost-effective delivery of key services, earning a "Star Library" designation five times including in 2014.