February 17, 2018

Budgets Rise at Florida Libraries

By Debra Lau Whelan

Here’s some good news from the Sunshine State: the Jacksonville and Miami-Dade public library systems will see a significant increase in their FY 2003-2004 budgets, despite widespread cuts and layoffs nationwide. The windfall in Jacksonville will result in 142 new full-time employees, including three children’s librarians, and expanded hours at three branches. Miami-Dade will add 18 more libraries to its existing 37 branches, hire new staff, and increase its materials budget by $1 million to $6.5 million.

How did the two systems get so lucky? Both cities have mayors and state legislatures that are extremely supportive of public libraries. The Jacksonville city council voted September 23 to increase the library’s budget to $25.6 million from $20.1 million in 2002-2003, says Stacie Bucher, a library spokeswoman. The money will go toward staffing six new library branches. Improving the city’s libraries is part of the Better Jacksonville Plan, a $2.25 billion capital improvement initiative funded by a sales-tax increase. About $150 million was set aside for the renovation or expansion of 12 libraries and the construction of the new branches, including a 297,510-square-foot central library scheduled for completion in 2004.

The Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners approved $60.2 million–a 12.4 percent increase–for the library’s 2003-2004 budget. The funds will make it possible to maintain and expand various children’s programs, including a tutoring program that reaches 600,000 kids a year, says library director Raymond Santiago.