NM Public Libraries & the Economy: May 2009

In the spring of 2009, the State Library conducted a survey to learn how the current ecomomy is impacting New Mexico public libraries.  The responses to the survey are included below.  36 libraries completed participated in the survey. Thanks to all the libraries that participated.

So far, the economic downturn has not dramatically impacted New Mexico libraries. While a few libraries reported significant increases in usage or significant budget reductions, most changes were relatively modest up to this point. However, 53% of those responding expect their 2010 budgets to be reduced.

As one library director noted it is a tough balancing act to juggle increased usage and decreased financial support at the same time.  Regardless of their own economic situation, libraries are finding creative ways to respond to customer needs. 53% of libraries are either offering or planning to offer services and programs to help patrons deal with these issues.  The programming and services demonstrate how libraries are responding to their communities with creativity, resiliency, humor and grace. We will be following up on this report with more in-depth analysis at a later date.

Additional resources and information on how libraries are responding

Change in statistics from January - June 2008 to July - December 2008

Circulation: 1.2% increase
Library Visits: 2.28% increase
Computer Use: 8.27% increase

2009 Budget

Higher than 2008: 43.8%
Lower than 2008: 34.4%
No change from 2008: 21.9%

After the 2009 budget was approved, did you receive further budget reductions?   

Yes: 30.0%
No: 70.0%
Average % of reduction: 14.30%

Do you anticipate further budget cuts for the 2010 budget?

Yes:  53.3%
No:  46.7%
Average % of expected cut:  9.50%

If your 2009 budget was reduced, how has that impacted the library?   

Hiring freeze:  46.2%
Staff work hours reduced: 15.4%
Service hours reduced: 7.7%
Acquisitions budget reduced:  61.5%
Program budget reduced:  38.5%
Other:  No staff raises for staff, reduction of supply, technology, capital projects, and travel budgets. Elimination of travel budget, computer technology assistance, and capital projects.  Purchasing delays due to cash flow problems.  Increase in fees passed onto patrons like printing costs.

Are you offering services, training, or other programs to assist customers in dealing with the economic downturn?  (i.e. services for job seekers, seminars for patrons facing foreclosure, small businesses, other,)  

Yes:  25.0%
Not at this time, but we are in the planning stages:  28.1%
No:  46.9%

Briefly describe services or program either currently offered or ones that you are planning to offer.

  • Classes for Online job application
  • Hope to purchase books I saw on Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites. Hope to purchase books on personal finance, etc. that patrons have been looking for. Ours are outdated considering this economic crisis.
  • Basic computer skills, resume wizard, etc.
  • Basic Bilingual Computer  ESL  Pre-GED  Spanish Conservation  Internet Surfing
  • We are planning a job search area, but the resources available may limit what we will be able to provide.
  • Apply Online - month long series of workshops on using the computer to find work
  • Hoping to have a workshop to help patrons with writing resumes, cover sheets and filling out online applications.  I do help with these things now on an individual basis but feel a workshop would help many more.
  • An on-line college student has used our computers for his course work.  Several patrons have used the computers for developing resumes and seeking job opportunities.  We have always offered assistance of various kinds to our patrons.  This has not changed and we will continue to follow this informal program of help.  We emphasize this in all our handouts and other means of informing the public.
  • Using the internet for job search and applications. (individually based)      Resume writing.      Online courses.  
  • Techniques for searching and researching.  (Statistics unknown)    We would also like to add summer jobs for kids, if funding allows.
  • We have computer access for people to use to look for jobs, local newspapers and a job bank flyer with job listings but we don't have any programming as such.
  • Aid is given individually to patrons in helping them find websites, setting up resume wizards, printing, attaching documents to applications, etc.  Just got a fax line a few months ago for patron use.  We do have a Notary Public and those services are free.  Workshops are not possible at this time unless they are conducted by outside groups or individuals, and nothing pertaining to the current economy/job situation is in the works.   In planning stages for question #2 below.
  • We are meeting with organizations to determine if such programs would be duplicated if we offered them.  We are offering the computer lab and meeting room to these agencies.
  • We have received a McCune grant to provide a series of four workshops for small business.  We need a matching grant to accomplish this. Chevron, who laid off more than 50% of the workforce here is giving us three laptop computers and a newer printer to meet the need for writing resumes and applying for jobs online.  They plan to give us two additional computers once the benefit period is over and the demand for computers to apply for unemployment benefits kicks in.
  • Several of our 17 libraries have provided this type of programming.  I do not have attendance statistics from the individual branches. The programming focuses on applying for jobs online, preparing resumes, and computer basics for those whose previous work experience did not require computer skills.
  • We don't have formal training as such, but offer, on request, help with job applications, resumes, etc, and offer use of our meeting room for people who give seminars, classes, etc.
  • One on one training in re resumes and on-line job applications; computer classes in databases relating to employment issues.
  • We are working with the City of Moriarty and the Workforce Connection to provide special notices regarding employment and encouraging the on-line application process.  Job posting available in our area are posted at the library. 

What other ongoing educational programs or services do you offer to adult customers (i.e. technology training, etc.) that could assist people in dealing with the economic downturn?

  • Each month we offer several technology training classes for adults.  We are able only to serve 8 people per class.  Probably serve 100 adults per month in this way.
  • People filing for unemployment are visiting the library to file online, because their phone calls don't go through to Alb. and also the unemployment office does not have a toll free number. Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. are usually slow months for computer users. But computer use was higher than normal. Also they need staff help, because most don't speak English, so staff had to translate; most don't know how to use a computer; so staff did not have to help, but realize if staff did not help these families would not receive any monies that month, etc.
  • One-on-one technology training.
  • We don't offer any programs but we do help individual patrons every day
  • We offer access to a practice test database called Learn-A-Test by Learning Express.  It also gives advice on resume writing. 
  • Computer Training Classes  Implemented 3/09  Ages 25 to 80  52 students registered      One on one help for applying for unemployment   One on one assistance with resume building
  • A volunteer conducts weekly classes on basic computer skills, which is attended by about 3-4 people a week.  We are also furnishing a room for a computer class for seniors, conducted by the Department of Older Adults.
  • Easy Icons  Social Security  IRS  Voting Information  Financial Aide
  • Computer skills: 8 programs, 82 attendance.  Reverse Mortgage Workshop: 1 program, 32 attendance. Social Security Information: 1 program, 14 attendance.
  • We have had computer training classes in the past but our instructor moved away.  Hope to find another and start this again.
  • Due to nonbudget related staff constraints, we are not offering any type of adult programming or training at the moment.
    Internet and computer education sessions on a 1-to-1 basis; increased adult programs to give people more options with no cost to them
  • Public access for job applications and individual requests for resumes assistance. And updated current business related books have been added to collection.
  • Digital photography   (2 4-week sessions per year, average attendance 4-6 people)
  • CPL offers a computer/internet question/answer time each Thursday from 2 - 4 p.m.  This has just started.  We offer computer classes periodically with one to eight attending.
  • Have requested laptops from the FOL group in order to hold training sessions on computer usage, everything from beginning ("this is how you turn it on") to classes in Publisher or Excel.
  • Basic computer classes, resume building using templates, Internet searching, setting up an email account, using magazines and newspapers on line.  Ongoing is on a need basis.  We encourage patrons to sign up for classes that interest them and we offer when there are two or more but will do for one a minimum of one time per month.  We have five or less participants each month.
  • Programs are on our webpage.    However, I believe our most effective work is one on one with individual customers.
  • We are planning another round of technology training, no statistics at this point.
  • We offer approximately 8 computer classes per month, with space for 3 students in each class.
  • Technology training--two weeks of the year.  One in the fall drew mostly ESL people as that is where the heaviest promotion occurred.  Spring ones are scheduled for April so no data there yet.
  • GED Distance Learning Software is loaded on our computers and we give a 2 hr. limited instead of just 1 hr. for those working on GED or college classes. 

How is your library balancing budget reductions with increased usage?

  • Our usage has not increased much, probably because of lack of parking due to construction in the area.  We may have to curtail hours at some point in the new fiscal year but do not yet know.
  • Thank goodness for GO bonds, and county funding otherwise we would not be able to have the books, magazines, copier paper etc. for library patrons, etc.
  • More frugal with supplies. Looking at reducing hours available but better service for when we are open.
  • So far we do not have budget reductions.
  • Reductions were capital for new and replacement items. Also prevented us from upgrading to Office 2007
  • Fundraisers Seeking Local Donations Reaching More Grants
  • With grace, dexterity and a sense oh humor!  All trained staff are required to spend 1/2 hour each day shelving returned materials and shelf reading.  Increased the use of volunteers.  Evaluating every task to determine if it still needs to be performed.
  • We are starting a volunteer program with the assistance of our Friends of the Library group to help with staffing issues and to increase service hours to evenings.
  • We are having more fundraisers to try to give us additional funds.
  • We haven't made any changes.  We have always had the highest unemployment, lowest income in the state.  The downturn has not really affected the Library.
  • We are OK unless the computers crash
  • We will rely on volunteers and remain visible with promotion as a needed entity. Public support will be called upon if budgetary restraints become impossible to work with.
  • Our all volunteer library has been assisting the librarian when necessary.
  • Reduced acquisition of books and videos;   postpone replacing older computers until next year.
  • We haven't had any budget reduction yet. I don't that we will next budget but there is a possibility.
  • We have to cut back on purchasing supplies and items for the collection.
  • Using funds from other sources.  Cutting down on expenses by printing our own peel off book plates, etc.
  • We will be submitting 09-10 Budget with increases in staff and hours open due to patron demand.  Due to the number of citizens voicing their need for the library to be open more hours, the Mayor and City Manager requested that I add more hours/staff this coming year.
  • In order to keep our doors open, we implemented a systemwide re-organization in January 2009. 19 staff were re-assigned.   Of those 19, 6 were from our Technical Services Department.  Of those 6, 5 individuals now are working in public services full time.   Four staff were given responsibility as Area Managers, which means they are responsible for 4 or 5 libraries each.  Four branches now have site supervisors rather than managers.  Committee work is limited.  New initiatives are less frequent. Outreach is a challenge. 
  • We aren't able to do anything and have not actually noticed an increase in use.
  • We just try to do our best with what we have.
  • NA for us--we've have slight budget increases and usage has remained steady.
  • For books we are depending on our Friends of the Library more.  Our computer usage requested in this report does not reflect the increase of use for lap top users throughout the building.
  • Buying less materials, less travel

Other comments?

  • I think you should have added another question. How is your library balancing staff reductions (either shortage of hours or staff) with increased usage? And our answer here would be, it's tough.
  • We have not been hit with any budget reductions but we have not had an increase to deal with a growing demand either. That is a reduction in itself.
  • We are very fortunate that the recession has had little effect on Clovis because we have military personnel as a constant, as well as a very conservative local banking industry.
  • Much too difficult to fundraise for salaries
  • Our libraries will get through this and I believe we will be stronger at the end.
  • As stated we do not have any budget worries for this year and we expect to be fairly comfortable for the next year.  If we have to hire a librarian to do the volunteer librarian’s job that will be a hurdle that the board is considering.
  • Library use has increased by 10-15% in the past 4 months and demand for DVDs and videos is up. There are several families in town who have had to move away because of the economic downturn, though.
  • It is difficult to answer this survey because we do not operate under government funding except for the state library grant and general obligation bond money.
  • The library is not the only department to have suffered budget cuts due to less gross receipts taxes.  All departments have been asked to reduce.  I have so far avoided cutting the materials budget, but soon there will be nothing left to cut except that.  I have explained the need to meet the per capita expenditure to the City Clerk, and she has assured me that that will be possible.
  • No statistics available without pulling files but we are seeing an increase in both circulation and computer usage.  Increase is in line with national stats of 20%.
  • With increased demands (50% increase in usage since the lay-off) I am volunteering more hours at the library.
  • During August 2008, all of our public access computers were unavailable due to the installation of our new computer management system. This negatively impacted our door count and our computer usage statistics.    Additionally, our downloadable book check out is increasing monthly and those numbers currently are not reflected in our circulation stats.  We are working to remedy this. Database usage is increasing, indicating that customers are accessing library services from home.  So, library usage is increasing even though the gate count numbers do not reflect this trend.   Public computer usage is up 13% this year, when I compare July 2007 - January 2008 with July 2008 to January 2009.
  • Please note that our busy season includes the months of July, August and September every year.  Thus, our higher usage in Q3 and Q4 of 2008 likely reflects this fact rather than an increase in usage due to economic conditions.  Indeed, while I hope I do not acquire foot-in-mouth syndrome in the near future, this recession has missed Angel Fire thus far.
  • Our City Manager asked if we could keep the library open more hours, especially during weekends, but because that would require more staff, he dropped the question.
  • Budgeting for temporary summer help may be an issue.  We have not been informed yet but we anticipate that we will not get funded for a temporary help.

Participating Libraries (note: a couple of libraries that completed the survey did not select their library name, so their responses are anonymous but included above)

Alamogordo Public Library
Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System
Belen Public Library
Bosque Farms Public Library
Capitan Public Library
Clovis Carver Public Library
Eunice Public Library
Fort Sumner Public Library
Hatch Public Library
Hobbs Public Library
Irene S. Sweetkind Public Library
Jemez Springs Public Library
Lordsburg Hidalgo Library
Los Alamos County Library System
Los Lunas Public Library
Marshall Memorial Library
Moriarty Community Library
Placitas Community Library
Portales Public Library
Pueblo de Abiquiu Library & Cultural Center
Questa Public Library
Reserve Public Library
Rio Abajo Community Library
Rio Rancho Public Library
Sandia Pueblo Learning Resource Center
Shuter Library of Angel Fire
Talpa Community Library
Thomas Branigan Memorial Library
Truth or Consequences Public Library
Tularosa Public Library