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Jeffco libraries gauging patrons’ expectations

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By Beth Potter

Jeffco Public Library administrators want your help.

The administrators are on a mission to find out what level of service patrons want to see at local libraries, Donna Walker, director of public services for the library system, said March 24 at the Evergreen Library. Administrators have been holding public meetings and handing out surveys at area libraries in recent months to get an answer to the service-level question.

Administrators cut hours at libraries following the economic recession that started in 2008. So far, library patrons’ top request is to restore library hours, according to Rebecca Winning, a library spokeswoman.

“The biggest complaint we get, is that we’re not open at convenient times when people can get to us,” Winning said.

Library administrators also are discussing alternative sources of revenue to fund more services, Walker said.

The library system’s 2014 budget is $24.6 million, with about 90 percent of the funds coming from county property-tax revenues, Winning said. The budget has declined a total of $3.4 million over the last six years because of the economic downturn, Winning said.

Administrators are discussing “mill-levy scenarios,” Walker said. That could mean asking voters to allow the library to operate as an independent district in the future. The library system’s previous effort to be independent did not go forward in 2011, after county commissioners decided to keep control of library funding. The library system includes the Arvada, Belmar, Columbine, Conifer, Edgewater, Evergreen, Golden, Lakewood, Standley Lake and Wheat Ridge libraries.

Some 62 percent of Jefferson County residents are library patrons. For more information, including budget information, visit www.jeffcolibrary.org.

Jefferson County Public Library

2014 budget: $24.6 million

Libraries: 10 — Arvada, Belmar, Columbine, Conifer, Edgewater, Evergreen, Golden, Lakewood, Standley Lake and Wheat Ridge libraries.

Funding: Up to 3.5 mills of property-tax revenue administered by Jefferson County

Issue: Property-tax revenue dropped in recent years because of an economic recession that started in 2008