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Public libraries and their budgets in 2010
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Public libraries and their budgets in 2010


An examination of the budgets of the public libraries of Brooklyn NY, Montclair NJ, and Northvale NJ, as three examples of public library by size and type in the Northeast US.

An examination of the budgets of the public libraries of Brooklyn NY, Montclair NJ, and Northvale NJ, as three examples of public library by size and type in the Northeast US.

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  • Bd of Trustees- 11 appted by Mayor and BkBoro Pres each, 12 elected, rest include Mayor, City Council Speaker, Comptroller, BkBoro Pres“Every resident of Brooklyn lives within a half-mile of a BPL location.” Kings- 2nd most densely packed county, after NY County (Manhattan)Per capita- local dollars spent. Total $ (local, state, fed) per cap- about $38
  • Contributed facilities etc- most of the library’s branches are occupied rent-free, the rent and utilities of which are paid for by NYC. Offset in income by an equal amt in expenses.Other: contribution income, discounts, investment income ($3.8m), contributed goods and svcs, special eventsFed government- $904,000. Too little to show up but still something.
  • Personnel- salaries, payroll taxes, health and retirement benefits.Rent- cancels out the income of contributed rents etcMaterials- about 70% print, 30% electronic and non-print. (as of 2008)Supporting services- mgmt & general (busi oversight, accountants and bookkeepers, etc – everything that does NOT lead or deal with library patrons or library objectives somehow), and fundraising (PR, maintaining donor lists, preparing/distributing related materials, anything related to soliciting contributions, etc)Office admin- postage, advertising, printing, office suppliesStaff expenses- conferences and meetings travel and subsistence, staff devmt, staff recognitionOther- professional fees and service payments, IT, insurance, repairs, bank fees, misc, bad debt expenses
  • From testimony of interim director Linda Johnson in March 2011 to City Council meeting on library budget.Sometimes money that is to be cut can be restored if the council subcommittee can wrangle it, which happened in 2010, but then some was taken back. Final budget not decided yet, will be in June.
  • Originally a subscription library (1869) that was later organized into a municipal library when NJ legislation authorized the establishment of free public libraries in 18902002 Libr of the Yr winner- Kalamazoo MIPer cap- $99 locally, $105 all told incl fed and state
  • State aid- Per Capita Library Aid program administered by NJ State Libr.Misc- fed, other, which includes fines. As of 1884, NJ municipalities are supposed to give at least 1/3 of a mill but Montclair gives a fair amount more, about 30-35% above the min. 2009- Mtc gave 53% above the min. 2008- 58% of NJ libraries gave more than the 1/3 of a mill min. Most munis that give more are generally urban, and Mtc’s extra funding “reflects the reality of Mtc being a unique mix of urban and suburban,” according to the pres of the librBd of Trustees.
  • Personnel- salary, wages, benefits, etc.Materials- as of 2008, about 70% print, 30% electronic, etc.BCCLS- we’ll get back to that in a sec.Other- security, programming, admin, etc.
  • 2009 Revenue: $3,999,727.00. Expenses: $3,999.816. From a proposed 2011 budget, not official. Worst-case. With closure of Bellevue branch, a lot of costs disappear- facility, extra security. Salary and wages for Bellevue employees. Materials budget goes WAY down. Revenues reduced by 31%. Mtc Township Mgr said this year would be “the worst I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen an environment like this before.”Final budget due end of April. At mid-March budget presentation, they asked town for $600,000 restored, which hasn’t been decided yet.
  • Per capita- about $77.50 in terms of all funds (state (no fed))If Northvale were a municipal library, it would be due about $336,000 in 2011 by the “1/3 of a mill” formula. So BCCLS requires that the library be paid that much, though the funds are not protected from town deductions as would those of a muni library.
  • States in the NE with AL (categorized as “non-profit assoc or agency libraries,” can also be called something like a la “incorporated libr” in VT): 48% in CT, 62% in ME, 47% in NY (755 libraries, most of any state), 85% in PA, 52% in RI, 40% in VT.Other non-NE states with Assoc. Librs: 24% in AK, 16% in TX. 16 states have at least one assoc librs, about 15% of all libraries in the US.
  • Rev: other = state ($3618), miscAbout 83% on books, 17% on other materials, very very little on electronic material, as of 2008.
  • Unlike Brooklyn, which largely maintains its own borough collective of libraries, …Open Borrowing: BCCLS,LMxAC (Libraries of Middlesex Automation Consortium), MAIN (Morris Automated Information Network), PALS (Passaic Library System), and SWELL (Sussex Warren Electronic Lending Libraries)


  • 1. Public Libraries and Their Budgets in 2010
    Three Case Studies
    LIS 651-04
    April 7, 2011
    Vicky Ludas
  • 2. Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn NY
    Municipal library founded 1897
    Exempt from federal, state, and local income taxes
    Run by 38-member Board of Trustees
    Serves more than 2.4 million patrons:
    Landmarked Central Library (Grand Army Plaza)
    Business Library (Borough Hall)
    58 Branch Libraries, 18 of which are Carnegie libraries
    1,000+ employees
    Per capita (as of 2008):
    $31 in local revenue
    2 books and 5 visits
    Fifth-largest public library system in the U.S.
    Photo source:
  • 3. BPL: 2010 Revenue
    Total 2010 Revenue: $139,523,000.00
  • 4. BPL: 2010 Expenses
    Total 2010 Expenses: $138,707,000.00
  • 5. Budget Cuts: 2009 vs. 2011
    Since 2009, city funding to the BPL has been reduced by $9.9m.
    Resulting cuts:
    Voluntary retirement
    Cuts in OTPS (Other Than Personnel Spending)
    160+ vacancies not filled
    A mid-year reduction in 2010 of $4.6m led to:
    $2m decrease in collections budget
    More cuts in OTPS, often one-time savings
    2011: $25.2m cut?
    Worst-case scenario: 40% staff layoffs, 16 libraries closed, hours reduced everywhere else
  • 6. Montclair Public Library, Montclair NJ
    Municipal library founded 1893
    2002 Library of the Year Special Mention by Library Journal
    Suburban library serving about 39,000 people:
    Main branch, built 1955
    Bellevue Avenue branch, built 1914 with Carnegie funds, now closed (though hopefully not permanently)
    34 employees at both branches
    Per capita (as of 2008):
    $99 in local revenue
    5 books and 8 visits
    Public programs over the years:
    Film series
    Ballet company in residence
    Art gallery
    Photo source:
  • 7. MPL: 2010 Revenue
    Total 2010 Revenue: $3,530,136.00
    * The base amount guaranteed by law is “1/3 of a mill,” about 33c per $1,000 of assessed value of a municipality’s land. Amount given can be increased but should not be less.
  • 8. MPL: 2010 Expenses
    Total 2010 Library Costs: $3,509,879.00
  • 9. Budget Cuts: 2009 vs. 2011(proposed)
  • 10. Northvale Public Library, Northvale NJ
    Association library founded 1957
    Borough library serving less than 4,500
    1 branch, 4 FT and PT employees
    Per capita (as of 2008):
    $73 in local revenue
    8 books and 6 visits
    Member of Bergen County Cooperative Library System (BCCLS)
    75-member cooperative that allows cardholders access to any of its libraries
    The BCCLS membership fee requires that the library be funded like a municipal library
    The sticking point for town budget issues – can Northvale afford funding the library to keep up with the fee for BCCLS benefits?
    Source: Personal correspondence, V. Beckman, Director of Northvale Public Library, March 25-April 4, 2011.
    Image source:
  • 11. Association Libraries
    Established by vote of association members
    Not municipally ownedor run
    Employees are not municipal employees and thus are not paid government-funded benefits and pension
    The public can volunteer for the association and vote for trustees
    Can be funded by the municipality but as discretionary funding
    Other potential income: membership fees, endowments, etc.
    If the town decides it cannot afford to pay the library budget, the library will close
    State laws often allow that association libraries can become municipal if the voters and town governing body approve
    Fairly unique to Northeast, older libraries built before state laws about municipal libraries (so why Northvale…?)
  • 12. NPL: 2010 Income and Expenses
    Total: $350,000.00 (approx.)
  • 13. Where are they now?
    As of 7/1/11:
    $23.2m of the proposed $25.3m cut was restored to the BPL budget by the NY Mayor and City Council, meaning no drastic cuts or layoffs though service will likely be reduced to 5 days a week instead of 6.
    Through rallying efforts by concerned townspeople and a unique public-private alliance, the Bellevue Avenue branch has been reopened one day a week, with self-checkout machines in place of librarians for the time being. However, much of the budget was not restored, and Montclair libraries lost $800,000.
    Unfortunately, the Northvale library could not be saved. Taxpayers voted against a tax increase and the town announced it could no longer afford the library, so it is to be closed in July.
  • 14. Works Cited
    Henderson, E., Miller, K., et al. (2010). Public Libraries Survey: Fiscal Year 2008 (IMLS-2010–PLS-02). Institute of Museum and Library Services. Retrieved April 1, 2011 from
    Brooklyn Public Library (2011). About Brooklyn Public Library: Board of Trustees. Retrieved April 6, 2011 from
    -- About Brooklyn Public Library: Hours and Locations. Retrieved March 30, 2011 from
    Eisner Amper LLP (2010). Brooklyn Public Library Financial Statements, June 30, 2010 and 2009. Retrieved March 22, 2011 from
    Johnson, L (2011). New York City Council Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Relations… Hearing on the Preliminary Budget. Retrieved March 30, 2011 from
    LaVecchia, O (2011, June 28). NYC’s “saved” libraries experience déjà vu. The Awl. Retrieved 7/1/11 from
  • 15. Montclair
    Drobness, T. (2011, January 13). Library budget for 2011 is going to be extremely bad. The Montclair Times. Retrieved March 22, 2011 from
    -- (2011, March 31). Montclair Public Library needs $300k more in additional funds. The Montclair Times. Retrieved April 6, 2011 from
    Hirsch, Y (2011). Montclair Public Library 2010 Budget. Personal correspondence, March 18, 2011.
    McDonald, T. (2010, July 22). The free ($4.1 million) public library. The Montclair Times. Retrieved March 22, 2011 from
    Montclair Public Library (2011). A Brief History of the Montclair Public Library. Retrieved March 22, 2011 from
    -- (2011). Montclair Public Library Proposed 2011 Budget – Summary. Retrieved March 25, 2011 from
    Speri, A. (2011, June 6). Private funds help keep Montclair library’s doors open. The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 7/1/11 from
  • 16. Northvale
    Curley, M. (2011, May 12). Northvale library to close; board puts blame on council. Northern Valley Suburbanite. Retrieved 7/1/11 from
    New York State Library (2009). Types of Public Libraries: A Comparison. Retrieved March 29, 2011 from
    Superville, D. (2011, March 16). Shortfall may shutter library in Northvale. The Record. Retrieved March 22, 2011 from