Evidence A

Las Vegas-Clark County Library District

The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District’s local economy is largely driven by tourism as well as property taxes and sales revenue. But all three of them have dropped rapidly in recent years. The economic downturn heavily affected the 2010-2011 library budgets, which had to be slashed by nearly $8 million.

The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, voted the library of the year in 2003 by Gale/Library Journal (Library Journal, 2003a), had to “eliminate 93 staff positions, including 19 full-time and 23 part-time employees,” on top of 39 positions “that were previously frozen and 12 vacated by staff who took a retirement incentive” (Library Journal, 2010). The dwindling local financial support was reflected when voters rejected a 2003 $50.6 million dollar bond to add four new branches to the library district by 62 percent (Library Journal, 2003b). The failed bond meant more overcrowding at the existing branches, and by extension more work for existing staff.

In 2010, Jeanne Goodrich, LVCCLD’s Executive Director, addressed the fact that despite an increase in library users, the library needed to cut its budget, staff, and operating hours. Library administration entered talks with the union representing full-time staff over a 2006 contract with incremental raises made prior to the fiscal crisis. An agreement with the union was made and 43 staffers were ultimately laid off (Library Journal, 2010). Library operating hours on Monday through Thursday were cut from 9 am to 9 pm to 10 am to 7 pm. The library district materials budget was further cut by over $4 million (Las Vegas Review-Journal, May 2010). Library users are on long waiting lists to check out popular materials. It’s not uncommon to see more than 400 people on a waiting list for a best-selling novel or more than 1,000 for a newly released DVD. Free Internet Services were popular as well. Library branches with computer labs allow online reservations for computer use ahead of time, in one or two hour slots, depending on the branch to help ease congestion (Las Vegas Review-Journal, Oct 2010)

A former deputy director for 11 years in Oregon, Goodrich segued from her then-role as library management consultant for the district and replaced the retiring Dan Walters in 2009. She stated that library users would not notice the budget cuts immediately but eventually users would have to wait longer for popular circulating materials, and not have access to more “obscure materials at all” (Las Vegas Review-Journal, Feb 2010). Goodrich’s report at a library board meeting in included a statement that “when we talk about falling off a cliff we’re not exaggerating” (Las Vegas Review Journal, May 2010) in reference to the fact that property values have dropped almost 50% in two years, which also caused low property taxes (Library Journal, 2010).

But library service continued to excel despite these challenges. The library district began offering eBooks (primarily best sellers, popular fiction and non-fiction) downloadable to users’ PCs, PDAs, Smartphones as well as personal computers via Overdrive Inc. The move boosted service to a population expected to grow by 36 percent through 2014, and the library district move towards being “the best source for free, on demand, digital information (Library Journal 2004). These positive changes came amidst multiple questions and unrest over the former director taking out medium-term bonds totaling $49 million in 2002 after voters rejected the ballot measure to build a new headquarters for library administration and a state-of-the-art service center, designed by Aaron Cohen & Associates, which ultimately became the Windmill Library and Service Center. The 29,000-square-foot library features a 50-foot high atrium with skylights and walls of windows. The attached service center is an 88,000-square-foot facility where books, movies, and music are stored and then circulated among the branch libraries.

The estimated cost to run the new library facility is $1.8 million each year. Dozens of staff members are being pulled from other branches to save money, likely putting extra strain on those other branches. Goodrich calls the library district “a cheap form of entertainment” that people are flocking to, pointing to a 3 percent increase in check-outs and $250,000 in used book sales (Las Vegas Review-Journal, May 2011a).

In May 2011 came the news that the 2012 library budget will be further cut by $3 million. Goodrich herself notes an increase in foot traffic, stating that “[d]oor counts, or the number of people who visit library branches, [are] up about 12 percent; computer use [is] up about 25 percent attendance at programs—almost always no-cost programs—the district sponsors [is] up about 10 percent,” and reference questions are up 23 percent. This leads to more work for staff with less money, both in the budget and in their salaries. The challenges to the library district and its staff grow as they continue to struggle to provide much-needed services to their communities (Las Vegas Review-Journal, Jan 2010).

References:

Las Vegas Review-Journal. (Jan 2010). Libraries become important spots for fun, help in tough times. Retrieved from http://www.lvrj.com/living/libraries-become-important-spots-for-fun-help-in-tough-times-81915937.html

Las Vegas Review-Journal. (Feb 2010). Library district will offer buyouts. Retrieved from: http://www.lvrj.com/news/library-district-will-offer-94-buyouts-84211377.html

Las Vegas Review-Journal. (May 2010). Library jobs trimmed. Retrieved from: http://www.lvrj.com/news/library-jobs-trimmed-94565404.html

Las Vegas Review-Journal. (Oct 2010). Packed libraries in valley register lower circulation, visitor numbers. Retrieved from http://www.lvrj.com/news/packed-libraries-in-valley-register-lower-circulation–visitor-numbers-106399043.html

Las Vegas Review-Journal. (April 2011). $34 million library set to open. Retrieved from: http://www.lvrj.com/news/-34-million-library-set-to-open-120440289.html

Las Vegas Review-Journal. (May 2011a). Windmill Lane library set to open. Retrieved from: http://www.lvrj.com/news/windmill-lane-library-set-to-open-121433474.html

Las Vegas Review-Journal. (May 2011b). More cuts coming for library budget, no layoffs expected. Retrieved from: http://www.lvrj.com/news/more-cuts-coming-for-library-budget-no-layoffs-expected-122218619.html

Library Journal. (2003a). Library of the Year: Las Vegas Clark County Library District, Las Vegas, Nevada. Retrieved from http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA302409.html

Library Journal. (2003b). Las Vegas – Clark County Library Loses Referendum. Retrieved from http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA305349.html

Library Journal. (2004). LVCCLD Ebooks Via Overdrive. Library Journal. 129 (17), 22. (http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=14750779&site=ehost-live )

Library Journal. (2010). Las Vegas/ Clark County Library District cuts hours, staff. Retrieved from http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/community/managinglibraries/883988-273/las_vegasclark_county_library_district.html.csp

Advertisements