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Opening Arguments

No way to run a library

The Allen County Public Library's renovation and expansion project has gotten a little negative publicity -- there was a slight cost overrun ($560,000 on the $65.4 million project, less than 1 percent), and Director Jeff Krull took some heat over the expensive new chairs that were ordered. Compare that to what's going on in Indianapolis. A story in the Star today notes that the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library's $103 million project has had a 40 percent overrun. And that's not all the bad news:

They've had to cut spending 2 percent already, but board members at the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library decided to trim even more to give CEO Linda Mielke a raise.
The 4 percent salary increase approved this month will bring her annual pay to nearly $122,000. Board President Louis Mahern said Mielke is worth at least that much, but it will take cutting library services to pay for the increase.
[. . .]
Most other library staffers received a 2 percent raise Jan. 1, but a second increase of 2 percent scheduled for July has been dropped.
Financial worries have dogged the organization since the library took on a massive expansion of Downtown's Central Library. The City-County Council froze the library's budget this year after there were cost overruns of more than 40 percent on the $103 million project.
The budget freeze at $36 million effectively reduced the library's operational spending by about 2 percent. To make up the loss of $1.5 million, the library shelved construction of two suburban branches, dropped outreach services such as a bookmobile for seniors and trimmed health coverage of retired staffers.
Officials also increased fines for overdue books from 10 cents a day to 25 cents and hired a collection agency to more aggressively pursue debts in an effort to increase circulation and revenue.
Libraries are among the institutions challenged by the information revolution. As more people are able to get more of what they want from other sources, especially online, libraries will have to redefine their roles. It can be done; the explosion of information itself argues for a well-maintained repository of local knowledge. But big brick-and-mortar projects are going to be harder and harder to justify.
(Via Indiana Barrister, which argues for privatization of the library)
Posted in: Uncategorized

Comments

Harry Baals
Thu, 03/23/2006 - 1:27pm

Any idea what Krull makes a year? I spent a great deal of time on the ACPL site yesterday and couldn't find it.

HB

Leo Morris
Thu, 03/23/2006 - 3:35pm

If you go to the Indiana State Library's page of statistics for 2003 (at http://www.statelib.lib.in.us/www/isl/ldo/statsmenu03.html ) and click on salaries for directors-automation managers, it will give you the hourly minimums and maximums for all the library districts in the state. Looks like the ACPL director is listed at $57.86 an hour.

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