Mayor Melvin Carter has a proposed a $1.77 million or 8.7 percent increase in the Saint Paul Public Library’s budget for 2023. According to him, the proposed $22.1 million budget reflects the ongoing transformation in the services provided by the public libraries.

The city’s public library system reduced staffing and services in 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting  reduction in hours. Those cuts were restored in 2022 with money from the federal American Rescue Plan. The public library’s 2022 budget also drew on federal Community Development Block Grants and CARES Act funds to support the Career Labs program. The Career Labs were added in 2020 to help library patrons access employment-related resources. In 2023 the city’s general fund will pick up the costs of that program.

Carter has earmarked $1.5 million to perform a safety assessment for the city’s public library system. Library staff have had to deal with a growing number of people in crisis or engaging in illicit behavior. Security staff were added this summer at the Latimer Library in downtown. Safety concerns have led to the closing of the back stack areas and the third-floor magazine room there.

“Our libraries are not just a warehouse for books,” Carter said in his library budget address. Libraries also offer career assistance services, homework centers for elementary and secondary students, internet resources and programs for very young children, he said.

The city’s public libraries also provide a refuge for people who have no other place to go during the day, including homeless people. This growing need has prompted the public libraries to hire social work staff.

The mayor’s proposed budget for 2023 would increase the number of full-time equivalent employees in the library system from 168.75 to 183.

Carter has also earmarked $1.5 million to perform a safety assessment for the city’s public library system. Library staff have had to deal with a growing number of people in crisis or engaging in illicit behavior. Security staff were added this summer at the Latimer Library in downtown. Safety concerns have led to the closing of the back stack areas and the third-floor magazine room at the Latimer Library. 

 

house ad

 

Other public library safety improvements could be rolled out in the months ahead. They may include the hiring of a safety director, relocating shelves and installing mirrors in the stacks. Earlier this summer, the Fire Department began sending injured firefighters on light-duty status to provide help as needed at the Latimer Library. The help of firefighters between calls could also be tapped.

The mayor’s budget would add two cultural liaisons to the public library system for Karen, Latino and Somali immigrants. He would also add $100,000 for the library’s collections.

The City Council is reviewing the mayor’s 2023 library budget. A final budget will be approved before the end of this year.

— Jane McClure

COMMENTS TERMS OF SERVICE

MyVillager welcomes comments from readers. Please include your full name and the neighborhood in which you live. Be respectful of others and stay on topic. We reserve the right to remove any comment we deem to be profane, rude, insulting or hateful. Comments will be reviewed before being published.

Leave a Reply