City Hall of Saint Paul

Library Advocates Seek Expanded Hours, Materials in 2015

The Friends of the Library ask the City to protect Saint Paul’s world-class library by maintaining a minimum level of dedicated funding for the library’s collections budget, while ensuring access to materials with some restored hours of service.

August 18, 2014, SAINT PAUL, MN – The Advocacy Committee of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library has outlined its position platform for the 2015 Saint Paul Public Library budget. Each year, The Friends calls on City of Saint Paul elected officials to address critical needs at the Library. This year the priorities are strengthening the library’s collection and restoring some of the hours that have been lost in recent years.

In order to help the library better serve the most learners of all ages The Friends, along with constituents from every neighborhood in the city, ask the Mayor and City Council to increase funding for new books and materials by $500,000 and to expand hours (maintain Sunday hours at Merriam Park, add evening hours at 7 branches, and morning hours at 7 branches) with $500,000 in increased funding.

For too many years, the portion of the Library’s general operating budget for collections has been trimmed, cut, and supplemented with other, re-purposed and one-time funds. The advocates remain concerned about this trend and would prefer to see the budget fully support at least a minimum level for materials.

The Saint Paul Public Library has always been in the business of learning, but in the 21st century, the tools, technology, skills and content of learning are constantly changing. The Internet, e-readers, mobile apps and web-based services have had a major impact on how people find, gather, create, and share information. Internet access and digital literacy are prerequisites for engaging with commerce, education, employment, health care, and government services at all levels.

It’s well known that improving digital literacy is essential. To that end, the library is investing in resources that equip children and adults with 21st century skills. Throughout Saint Paul, the library is offering digital training programs for all ages, expanding digital services and collections, and renovating its facilities with updated technology and flexible, efficient spaces.

Saint Paul Public Library is uniquely positioned to provide the greatest accessibility to flexible, collaborative learning environments. The only significant limit to this access is the reduction in hours the library has had to adjust to in recent years. Restoring some evening and morning hours at seven libraries will get us back toward 2009 levels – not fully, but close. More importantly, access to critically needed services and learning resources will help close the achievement gap and allow people from all over the city to prepare for college and employment in the future.

The Friends has demonstrated its commitment while advocating for strong public support of the library by delivering solutions and financial support along with its requests. Since 1997, The Friends’ cumulative support for books, materials and special programs has been more than $10.7 million. That figure does not include $14+ million in private donations raised through capital campaigns.

In order to help the library better serve the most learners of all ages in neighborhoods across the city, The Friends’ Advocacy Committee presented the following requests to elected officials:

  1. $500,000 in new books and materials funding
  2. $500,000 for expanded hours – 67 additional hours per week
    (in priority order: maintain Merriam Park Sunday hours;
    evening hours at 7 branches; morning hours at 7 branches)

The Saint Paul Public Library is a place for collaborative learning and discovery, with a definition of service that goes well beyond checking out books. The Friends stand with the library and the city as together we face an exciting future, ripe with opportunity for all the people of Saint Paul.

For additional information on The Friends’ advocacy platform, please contact Peter Pearson at 651-222-3242 or by email: peterp@thefriends.org.

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