The financial news for libraries in 2016 was for the most part positive—overall, budgets are up modestly—but many, still rebounding from the recession and working to keep pace with needed capital improvements and technology requirements, still feel that they’re just getting by. Libraries, particularly smaller systems, continue to meet the challenge of working with what funds are available. But unexpected or one-time expenses for a library of any size can still result in tightened purse strings. Also, the rising costs of benefits for employees, as well as the uncertainties of the health-care marketplace, are an increasingly common concern.
Library Journal’s annual budget survey reveals that many public libraries are, at best, furiously treading water.
The 388 libraries that responded to the survey projected a negligible overall decrease in their total 2012 operating budgets (0.7 percent). Materials budgets are down 1.2 percent. And personnel budgets are relatively flat, with an uptick of just 0.2 percent.