Barb Brattin, director, Wilkinson Public LIbrary


Editor’s note: In 2011, for the fourth time in a row (and running), the Library Journal Index of Public Library Services, a public library rating system, designated Telluride’s Library a five-star institution. The Wilkinson Public Library ranks fifth in the nation among public libraries with annual budgets of $1 – 5 million, hence the name of library director Barb Brattin’s semi-regular column, “Five Stars.”

Barb Brattin, director, Wilkinson Public LIbrary

Barb Brattin, director, Wilkinson Public LIbrary (and Finn)

There’s a little something missing from the Wilkinson Public Library: $$$$$. You may not have noticed, but we took a 10.4% budget cut this year.

The cut is a delayed result of lower property values and reduced tax collections. And it is the first time in the Library’s history we had to face with such a challenge. But you know the cliche about “when the going gets tough”: we responded by holding our heads high, taking a deep breath, and committing to our most important asset – our staff.

No one lost his job. No one was asked to work less or take a pay cut. We continue to buy books and movies and audiobooks and magazines, knowing that’s what we’re here for. And we continue to provide excellent programming for all ages by maximizing partnerships with the community and winning grants like the ALA/ Fetzer Building Common Ground program series. Instead of cutting back on services, we took a year off from buying new computers and making building improvements and gratefully accepted the outstanding support of our Friends of the Library organization.

If budget cuts were to last only one year, we would weather the temporary restrictions without breaking a sweat. But tax collections don’t look like they will recover for years to come. In fact, we’re bracing ourselves for another, possibly deeper cut in 2014, one that might leave us with little choice but to reduce our hours and cut back on the amazing programming and collections we provide the community.

Is this a dire warning? Hardly.

This is just a simple heads-up that the economy has affected even the Wilkinson. In the months and years to come, we still commit to providing our extended community the best programs and services we can afford. The same programs and services that have won us four consecutive Five Star awards from Library Journal. (And gave me a great handle for this column.) The same programs that get us ranked seventh in the nation for attendance per capita. The same service that makes us the busiest library per capita in Colorado.

Public libraries know that in times of economic decline, their services are needed more than ever – even when their budgets are in jeopardy. We are committed to continuing Five Star service to our community, come what may. You are the reason we are here and we love serving you!

Thank you for your continued support!


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