TACOMA – The Pierce County Library System’s Community Advisory Committee on Library Funding will present its recommendation to the Library System’s Board of Trustees on how the Library System should address its budget deficit. The volunteer citizens committee will share their findings at the Board of Trustee’s meeting at the South Hill Pierce County Library, 15420 Meridian E., South Hill, on Wednesday, June 13, at 3:30 p.m.
The 13-member advisory committee is made up of community leaders from throughout Pierce County, from businesses, local governments and nonprofit organizations. The Library System formed the committee in winter 2018 to evaluate the Library’s funding as well as public comments and input.
The committee reviewed the Library’s funding that is limited by state law to not increase funding from property taxes by more than 1 percent more than the previous year. The committee also looked at how the Library has managed its budget deficit of approximately $20 million during the past nine years. Since 2009, the Library System has been reducing or eliminating services, making efficiencies, and deferring or not offering services.
The group reviewed input from thousands of residents in the Library’s service area which noted library services the public needs, wants and values most.
Prison Reentry Program. Also at the meeting, the Board will hear about a new Washington State Library program that Pierce County Library is supporting to help individuals recently released from Washington state prisons successfully return to communities. As part of the prisoner reentry program, Library staff will coordinate registering soon to be released prisoners for library cards. Upon their release from prison, the Library will provide the former inmates with their library cards. Staff will also provide information about services that can best help former prisoners as they reenter communities, such as job and technology resources and referral to local resources for housing, food, transportation and other services. Pierce County receives the second highest number of released prisoners annually.
South Hill Library. The Board will also tour and hear more about the busy South Hill Library which is a large family-oriented hub and boasts the second highest checkout of books and materials out of the 20 libraries in the Library System. In 2017 people checked out 622,000 items from South Hill Library. Gig Harbor Pierce County Library holds the current record with 705,000 checkouts last year. The South Hill Library has strong community partnerships and supports school success and preparing children for kindergarten. It also serves the area’s growing Spanish speaking population with bilingual story times and block play.