More than half of public libraries are reporting flat or decreased operating budgets this fiscal year, according to a new report from the American Libraries Association called Libraries Connect Communities: Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study 2011-2012.
While it may sound bad, the percentage of libraries experiencing this actually went down from last year. This year 56.7 percent reported flat or decreased operating budgets, whereas in 2011 59.8 percent of libraries reported this.
Operating expenditures for libraries dropped to 2.4 percent in 2012, and a 5.3 percent decrease is expected in 2013. This is much less drastic than in 2009, when libraries saw operating expenditures fall by 41.8 percent.
To address the dropping budgets, libraries are buying less new books for their collections and some libraries are cutting staff. According to the report, budgets for adding to collections dropped 15 percent in 2009, 45.4 percent in 2010, 33.9 percent in 2011 and 37 percent in 2012. Budgets are expected to drop only 4.9 percent next year.
The report also found that 23.2 percent of libraries have decreased staff during the last three fiscal years. And while salaries and benefits dropped 36.4 percent in 2009, that number is expected to grow 3.2 percent in 2012. However, the report projects a 7.4 percent decrease next year.