Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

June 14, 2010

Library cuts put off until July

By Brenda L. Holmes
CNHI

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library Board of Trustees has postponed any decisions on closing any of its branches until its July 15 board meeting.

The board is considering a variety of proposals to reduce the cost of operations. The possibility of closing up to six branches by 2012 is one of the proposed solutions to effectively maintain future library services.

The branches being considered for closure include Glendale and Brightwood in 2011 and Fountain Square, Flanner House, Spades Park, and West Indianapolis in ‘12.

The decision to close the branches was originally to take place at the board’s June 10 meeting. It was delayed to allow the board’s finance committee more time to review other proposals and suggestions offered by the public.

“The library is extremely gratified by the public’s response and offers of support related to this issue,” Thomas S. Shevlot, president of the IMCPL Board of Trustees, said in a press release. “We are committed to thoughtfully considering all options. This extra time will serve the library and the public well.”

Officials say the one-month delay will give the staff time to formulate the financial impact and be able to present its 2011 budget to the City-County Council by September.

IMCPL Communications Specialist Jon Barns said, “Right now we’re waiting on a report from the city’s High Performance Government Team to see if anything can be identified in the short-term that can keep all libraries operating for another year. But we all know a long-term solution would be needed to maintain and sustain the library system into the future.”

The library is facing a reduction of more than $4 million per year from a combination of property tax caps and the total tax levy. There have already been a number of cost-cutting strategies implemented.

The potential closures come at a time when the library system is seeing record patronage. Last year IMCPL had almost 6 million visitors, more than 17 million items checked out, and 1.2 million session hours of free computer usage. Only about 4 percent of the library’s budget comes from fines and fees. State statute requires most library services be offered free to residents.

The decisions will be made at the library board’s next meeting at 6:30 p.m. July 15 in the Riley Meeting Room at Central Library, 40 E. St. Claire St., Indianapolis.

For more information about the libraries’ sustainability plan, visit the website at www.imcpl.org.

brenda.holmes@flyergroup.com