While 2020 has been a very challenging year for the Kawartha Lakes Public Library system, there are important changes on the horizon for 2021, says Jamie Anderson, CEO and library director. Anderson presented to council a budget request for an additional 5.35 per cent.
Anderson shared with councilors where the system currently is and how it has been coping with a pandemic-dominated landscape.
The system currently has 14 branches and they are open 326 hours a week. The system employs eight full time staff and 36 part-time staff for an equivalent of 25 full-time staff. The system owns 12 of the 14 buildings the branches are housed in, while renting space in Omemee and Dunsford.
Anderson said one of the biggest moves the library board made was eliminating overdue fines in the fall of 2020 for materials not returned on time.
“We only took in $9,000 in fine money and the fines unduly punished people of lower incomes,” Anderson said.
In 2020, 87 per cent of all customer interactions were virtual, up from 60-65 per cent in 2019. A YouTube channel established by the library in 2020 received over 30,000 visits. Circulation was unfortunately down, he says, by 55 per cent because of the pandemic and the library being closed for almost three months.
“There were simply fewer people out of the house this year,” Anderson said, “but we were also the first city service to re-open. Our staff has shown a real willingness to try different things this year.”
The 5.35 per cent increase in budget requested by the library board would amount to $131,423. Major projects for 2021 include the renovation and expansion of the Bobcaygeon library, expected to be complete by early 2022, and the ongoing expansion of the library in Fenelon Falls to allow for more library programming.
Director of Community Services Craig Shanks, who works closely with the library board, told council that the system “has looked very carefully for efficiencies in their operation before presenting this budget.”
A final decision about the library board’s financial request will be made at the next council budget meeting on Feb. 16.