The Eugene Public Library and its branch libraries are a stockpile of resources for the Eugene community. The buildings are designated cooling and heating shelters for extreme temperatures, as well as a haven for when it’s smoky outside. There are, obviously, copious numbers of books for checkout, but also amenities like wifi hotspots and cooking pans that can be borrowed. Last year, the library got rid of fees so that more people could enjoy and access the library.
But the library faces possibly devastating budget cuts. According to a flyer created by the Eugene Public Library Foundation and Friends of Eugene Public Library, city leaders proposed a $1.5 billion city budget for 2023-2025, with $30 million (2 percent) in total cuts. If this city budget passes, the library would absorb 13 percent of the city’s cuts, which amounts to a loss of $4 million biennially.
The proposal reduces the library’s general fund budget by 17 percent, which would result in a biennial reduction of more than nine staff positions and a $1.87 million cut to materials such as books, databases and other digital services. Because the library has no revenue income, there is no way for the library to make up for the loss of funding besides cutting services. Renée Buchanan, board president and head of the Advocacy Committee for the foundation says this means that there would be increased wait times for materials, fewer programs for patrons, and staff would be spread too thin to adequately help and support patrons and the community.
Dana Flemming, executive director of the Eugene Public Library Foundation, explains that the library made library cards free for any student in the 4J or Bethel School District, whether or not they live in city limits. Librarians also teach classes on computer skills at the Eugene Mission. “A lot of the beautiful things that happen outside the walls” of the library,” she says.
Buchanan, adds that the budget cuts will also reduce the library collection so that there will be fewer books and resources for people to use. Materials that are still in circulation will take longer to process, she says, so there will be longer wait times.
“One of the goals of the city is to become more sustainable, and by having shared resources in common we can reduce our environmental footprint,” Buchanan says. But if the library isn’t functional, then it can’t be a sustainable resource for the community.
The easiest way for people to advocate for the library is to send a letter to the city budget committee at firstname.lastname@example.org. Zoom hearings will be held May 17 and 24 for the budget committee. Buchanan says that if people Zoom into the meeting and put their name as “library supporter” then the advocacy committee can then use that documentation to show how many people support the library.
On June 26, the City Council final budget adoption vote will be both in-person and on Zoom. Friends of Eugene Public Library and Eugene Public Library Foundation have social media accounts where people can share posts and also stay up to date.
To find out more and find links to information, visit EPLFoundation.org/advocacy .