Last week we talked about how the library is funded in general and how that might impact a new facility.
We are looking forward to (at the very least) renovating our current space to make it work a little better for our patrons and are excited to get to work on that. We are already in conversations with our wonderful design team, MS&R (check out the link to see some of the work on libraries they have done all over the country!) And are working with our Friends of the Library Board to begin a capital campaign that will help us maximize capacity for an updated library.
For now though, we are faced with some bad news in our operations budget for 2016. Some of our users may remember that in 2013, the City Council voted to eliminate one FTE in each city department. The library was not spared these cuts, despite our contention that we would be impacted more in the long term due to the fact that almost 1/3 of our revenues comes as a reimbursement for spending. What we predicted has come true and the County reimbursements we are receiving this year are approximately $20,000 less than prior years. Add to this rising health care costs, increasing costs for materials and supplies, and an aging facility with ever more maintenance costs and we have a steep difference between our revenues and our projected expenses.
The Library Board of Trustees had a tough task last month. To make our expenditures match our revenues, they have elected to eliminate one of our staff positions. This was especially difficult as all of our staff do a fantastic job serving the public. In the new year, we will no longer have the wonderful technology and service skills of Angie–our Reference Associate in charge of marketing, social media and technology training.
In addition to losing one of our team, we will be scaling back on programming, our materials supplies, and more. We hope these difficult changes will make us more efficient in the long run and that we will be able to continue to serve you ALMOST as well as before.
As always, your voice is important to our City Council in determining when and whether to increase funding for the Library. Dollars are scarce, and the Council has many priorities to juggle when determining where your taxes are allocated. However, your voice is important to your council representatives, so be sure to get in touch with them if you have comments or questions about their decisions.
In addition to these changes, I want to share with you all that I have been offered and have accepted an exciting new opportunity. I will soon be leaving Rice Lake for La Crosse, Wisconsin, where I will lead their already outstanding youth services team. This is a bittersweet change for me. While I have long wanted to return to my librarian roots and work again more directly with children and families, I will miss the wonderful people in Rice Lake–both those I work with and those I serve. I have learned a lot from my time as your library director and have made good friends here. I hope I have been a force for positive change within our community as well.
This decision was a difficult one, and I want you to know it was not sudden, nor a reaction to the recent challenges presented to the library. Instead, it was made with careful consideration of what is best for my family, and what I want out of my work and life balance. I look forward to directly impacting early literacy, working with teens, and helping families connect to books and information in new ways. I’m excited to work in a community with strong city government support and a commitment to the value and essential functions of the library.
I will be here through the holidays and will help our Library Board of Trustees complete a Director search and get started on the renovation of the RLPL. Thank you all so much for your continued support of the Rice Lake Library. I am excited to know I will come back to visit an updated library with wonderful people doing their best to meet the needs of Rice Lake. If you are interested in participating in our Capital Campaign to make the vision of a new library a reality for Rice Lake, please call me or stop in! 715-234-4861 ext. 111