For over 175 years, the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library has provided excellent library programs and services that meet the ever changing needs of Erie County’s residents. Our 37 libraries—including the downtown Central Library, eight City of Buffalo branches and 22 contracting member libraries which operate 28 facilities—reach the County’s 910,000+ residents by being innovative centers of information, education, culture and entertainment.
Since the drastic budget cuts of 2005 when we closed 15 libraries, took four mobile units off the road and lost scores of staff, the Library System’s Board has been researching the various governance options available to libraries in New York State. The Boards of Trustees at all of our libraries recognize how essential our libraries are to the fabric of our communities and are committed to the System’s long-term financial viability and stability.
As a municipal library system funded through the County, the Library is essentially just one line item in an increasingly competitive and political budgetary process. As the County’s financial mandates increase, the Library’s share of funding decreases. Since 2000, the Library has lost $4.2M in funding. Because library supporters like you spoke out in favor of the Library’s 2013 budget, $300,000 was restored to our budget—not nearly enough to restore the 5,100 hours the system has lost since 2010 because of continued funding cuts.
(2012 Funding: $19,872,457 from County Levy for Library Funding and $2,000,000 from County Inter-fund Revenue Subsidy)
Despite these cuts, the demand for library programs and services has continued to grow–from 3.44M visits in 2006 after the 15 libraries closed to over 3.6M visits in 2012. Circulation has also grown. Total circulation in 2006 was 7.04M. In 2012, patrons checked out over 8.2M items—a 1.2% increase over 2011. The number of public computer users has also increased from 2011. We’re up 1.8% with 857,828 people using our public computers.
Despite being open 98.5 fewer hours weekly, Erie County residents continue to count on you and the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library System to provide programs and services and see the System as a good investment of their hard-earned tax dollars.
Given the "funding roller coaster" the Library has been on since 2000, the Library System board’s research on governance options culminated with a September 15, 2011. After receiving the support of a super majority of contracting library boards, the System Trustees voted to pursue becoming a Special Legislative District Public Library (SLDPL).
A SLDPL is created by a municipality’s voters—in this case Erie County. The B&ECPL will be asking the voters to create one library district that will be comprised of all the public libraries presently operating within Erie County. Voters will establish the district and its initial funding as well as publicly elect the district’s board of trustees. 23 independent entities will become one. 23 hiring authorities will become one.
For a more detailed look at the Library District, watch the PowerPoint presentation below.
The Library System Board of Trustees is committed to keeping you up to date on the work we’re doing. If you would like to subscribe to our LDI E-newsletter, please click here. If you know of a community group that may be interested in a public presentation, click here to send us the information.
As the Initiative proceeds, we will post more information on this website. Below is a list of resources you can use.
Library District Initiative
- This document, the Case for Consolidation, supports the reasoning behind consolidating the Library System. Click here.
- System Board Chair Jack Connors delivered Testimony before the Erie County Legislature Community Enrichment Committee on January 31, 2012 in Old Erie County Hall. Click here.
- System Director, Mary Jean Jakubowski, delivered testimony before the NYS Assembly Standing Committee on Libraries and Education Technology on Tuesday, November 29, 2012 on the need for increased state library funding and why the B&ECPL was pursuing the Library District Initiative. Click here to read the testimony.
- Frequently Asked Questions about Special Legislative District Public Libraries. Written by Ellen Bach, Attorney at Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, Libby Post, President, Communication Services and Mary Jean Jakubowski, B&ECPL’s Director.
- Stable Funding, Thriving Communities PowerPoint presented by Mary Jean Jakubowski to local elected officials and community groups.
- Book Smart, the report on governance options by the UB Regional Institute (June 2011)
- B&ECPL White Paper on the Library District Initiative (June 28, 2011)
- Media Release announcing System Trustee Vote to Pursue a Library District
- Library District Resource Links
B&ECPL Facts and Figures
- Your Return on Investment. See how much Erie County residents save then they use the Library System.
- B&ECPL’s 2012 Budget
- Budget Testimony before the Erie County Legislature delivered by Board Chair Jack Connors and Library Director Mary Jean Jakubowski (November 15, 2012).
The 1953 act which allowed the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library to be formed. Click here.
The 1970 lawsuit between the County and Library/Librarians Assn, which affirmed librarians were ‘public employees’ of library which was ‘public employer’ within Public Employees’ Fair Employment Act. Click here.
The 1992 lawsuit between the Library and County affirming the B&ECPL’s status and control of funds, holding that: (1) library trustees had exclusive power and duty to administer library and its personnel, and (2) library trustees had exclusive management of county library appropriation subject to audit powers of county comptroller. To read, Click here.