On paper at any rate, it looks as if the Maryville Public Library is taking a huge hit for the upcoming fiscal year with anticipated revenues of $259,000 compared to nearly $275,000 in 2011-2012.
But Library Director Stephanie Patterson said this week that the totals are deceiving, and that the library's fiscal outlook, while not lavish, is at least on a fairly even keel.
Patterson said the disparity between the current year, which ends Sept. 30, and 2012-'13 has to do with a $39,000 insurance payment made in connection with last August's hail storm, which caused extensive damage to the library's roof and roof-mounted air-conditioning units. The storm also broke several windows and caused other superficial damage.
As it turned out, Patterson said, the cost of repairs was less than expected, which allowed the library to used about $9,000 from the settlement to plug some budget gaps.
The windfall, for example, made it possible to add more than $2,000 to the library's $26,000 new-books appropriation, a line item that had been trimmed from a high of $30,000 in 2010-2011.
Book purchases made late this summer, Patterson said, were timely, since spending for new circulation materials had essentially ceased.
"We had patrons coming in and asking, 'Where are the books?'" she said.
A similar infusion of cash is unlikely during the upcoming year, however, and the library faces a number of financial challenges. Budget concerns have forced Patterson, once again, to trim her book budget back to $25,000. That's about what the library spent on new circulation and reference volumes in 2009-2012.
Other cuts include a couple of genealogy database subscriptions with a combined annual cost of $1,800
However, Patterson told the Maryville City Council this week that while the library continues to operate on a tight budget, things could be worse.
A slight increase in assessments means additional funds can be expected through the library's property tax levy, which stands at 15.3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation and accounts for 76 percent of total revenue.
In addition, Patterson has worked over the past year to increase support through the Friends of the Library, which is expected to raise about $10,000 over the next 12 months as opposed to $6,200 for the current year.
A lack of new books, especially volumes for adult readers, is cutting into overall circulation, but this year's estimated 76,000 check-outs — down by 1,000 or so — should still be the "second or third highest in the history of the library," Patterson said.
Patronage by young readers, which Patterson has emphasized for the past few years, remains strong, and nearly 400 children and teenagers participated in the 2012 summer reading program
In the coming year, Patterson said she wants to implement more programs that appeal to adults and is actually cutting back a pre-school story hour from once a week to once a month in order to pay for activities aimed at older readers.
Page 2 of 2 - These are to include a "mystery night" in January and a book discussion group in February featuring "Killing Lincoln," a book about the assassination of the nation's 16th president penned by television personality Bill O'Reilly.
Other activities and acquisitions aimed at adult patrons will include five new laptops along with one-on-one tutoring in basic computer skills to be paid for with a $6,000 grant.
Another grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program, which is providing the funds through Nodaway County Economic Development, will provide patron access to a market research database geared to the needs of small business.