From the Director – 10/13

October Message to the Community from Luren E. Dickinson:

Heisenberg’s “Uncertainty Principle” is a key tenet of physics, which states there is a limit to which certain particles can be precisely known. In today’s recession-ridden society there seems to be a similar limit as to our understanding of how to fine-tune our frail economy. Likewise, there is a limit as to knowing exactly where technology is headed in this Internet age with seemingly new advances on a daily basis.

Libraries across the country are struggling with these issues of uncertainty whether in dealing with diminishing dollars while attempting to meet digital demands or continuing to supply traditional services that are still needed and required by many.

Ohio’s public libraries seem to be as hard-pressed as any. Once hailed as the best funded in America, they are in serious risk of losing that designation. State funding has been stagnant or declining since 2000 and things are not going to improve soon. The Department of Taxation estimates that the recent biennial budget will once again provide libraries with fewer dollars over the first year and will only keep up with inflation with a strong second year.

If not for local property tax funding, we would be in much worse condition; however, even property taxes have been declining since their high water mark in 2009.  In fact, Shaker Library will be forced to cut another 6% of its budget for next year, bringing the total Great Recession-related cuts to 18%. <p>

As the health care debate continues on the national level, Shaker Library pays the equivalent of up to 40% of the wages of our lowest paid workers to provide them with single health insurance coverage. That amount does not include Medicare, pension, worker’s compensation, and other expenses, amounting to another 16% or so—dollars that do not show up in salaries.

At times like these, we truly appreciate the local property owners who provide about 60% of our revenue.  We also thank Friends of the Shaker Library, an enterprising volunteer group that continues to give more by funding our Summer Reading Programs; our adult, children’s and teen activities; costs for staff development days, service recognition, and retirement observances; new library equipment and furniture; and a host of other items.

Thank you, as well, to those who are regular contributors to Shaker Library or the Shaker Heights Public Library Fund of the Cleveland Foundation. If you are not a member of the Friends, we would encourage you to join and become active in the group by picking up a membership form at Main Library or the Bertram Woods Branch or printing it off the website. To make a donation to Shaker Library, go through our PayPal link or the Foundation link.

Luren E. Dickinson, Director