By Katie Klossner, Community Relations Manager
When people find out I work for Douglas County Libraries (DCL), I am often mistaken for a librarian. I can see the disappointment in their faces when I gently explain I am not able to help them with a reference or research question (or even remove any library fines they may have). I am honored folks think I am a librarian, as I have a great deal of respect for these incredibly bright, educated, and friendly resources that work the public areas of our library world.
I can usually be found working in a small administrative office within another area of the Philip S. Miller Library. Ironically, even though I work within a library, I have always been just an ‘average Joe’ library user. However, due to the challenging economy, my family and I have been using the library more and more within the past year or so. In fact, I made it a budget goal for my family to save money by using the library. Here are some of my easiest cost savings tips:
1. Don’t Buy Books (Approximate savings: $300/year; $25/month)
On August 21, 2008, the Library Board of Trustees adopted a resolution to place a mill levy increase question on the November ballot. That ballot will ask for voter approval for 1 (one) mill. 0.4 mills will be retired when the building projects are paid for -- which is estimated to take about 20 years. One mill is $7.96 per year on each $100,000 of home value.
What are the projects? A neighborhood library in Castle Pines (in leased space), a new Parker Library (on donated land), and a new Lone Tree Library (also on donated land). They would open in 2009, 2011, and 2012, respectively. Castle Rock and Highlands Ranch would also see some building improvements as funds are available, but not later than 2012.
The proposal is different from last year's in three ways.
* It's cheaper. Our public feedback revealed a lot of concern about the economy. We heard you. Despite rising construction costs, we lowered the anticipated expense by scaling back the projects, and phasing in their construction. The library has always taken an aggressively conservative approach to public expenditures. We still do.
When I was 18, I came up with a basic life philosophy. I called it "the expandable egg."
Imagine a chicken in the egg. One day, the young chick is aware of pressure. That pressure is uncomfortable, then constraining, and finally intolerable.
So the chick starts to kick and peck. She breaks out of the egg.
And immediately: Wow, it's big out here! So the first instinct is to seek shelter. Under mom, away from mysterious threats.
But eventually, the chick gets bolder, and starts exploring. After a while, she learns all kinds of shortcuts to the best or hidden food. What was immense and unknowable becomes familiar.
And then, it becomes too familiar. Constraining. One day, the chick pokes through the fence, and --- wow, it's big out here!
Learning is an egg that gets bigger and bigger.
It applies to using libraries, too.
In Douglas County, many, many children are first exposed to libraries through storytimes. Here they fall in love with one or more of our staff, discover fascinating stories, learn fun finger plays and songs.
Consider the following. Based on a comparison of library statistics between 2002 and 2006:
* Visits to libraries increased by 10 percent across the country; at Douglas County Libraries, 65 percent.
* Circulation (checkouts) grew by 9 percent nationwide; at Douglas County Libraries, 74 percent.
* Nationwide, the number of Internet-capable computers increased by 38 percent; at Douglas County Libraries, 126 percent.
* Our circulation of children's materials (in 2007) is the highest in Colorado at 3,122,000 and is 48% of our circulation. That outstrips the 42% that was reported as the highest in the country in 2006 -- at a library in Vermont.
Here are a few local stats:
* Over 80% of our households have at least one active library card.
* Independent research has revealed that the return on investment for the Douglas County Libraries is just over $5 per tax dollar invested.
* A recently completed poll by Hill Research reports that we have an approval rating among our citizens of a staggering 93 percent.