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Marion County library may close six branches

April 8, 2010

The Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library may decide to close six of the the system's 22 branches in an effort to close a widening budget gap.

Library CEO Laura Bramble presented several options Thursday afternoon to the finance committee of the library board of trustees. The options range from keeping open the branches while reducing their hours to closing two, four or six branches while keeping normal hours at remaining locations.

The most drastic option would mean closing the following branches: Glendale, Brightwood, Flanner House, Fountain Square, Spades Park and West Indianapolis in 2011 and 2012.

The closings would mean cutting 35 to 55 full-time equivalent staff members.

Only the most drastic scenario, however, would eliminate the budget deficit. By closing six branches, the library could have a $220,896 surplus by 2014.

The closings would come on top of several other cost-saving measures, including cutting hours for all staff members and raising fees. Under all scenarios, the library staff is proposing to cut its work week to 37.5 hours, resulting in a 6.25-percent pay cut. The library system would also start charging for the use of study and meeting rooms, and raise to $5 the fee for cancelled holds and failure-to-pick-up holds.

The library is cutting costs because it will lose 8 percent of its annual revenue to tax caps. In 2010, the library expects to see about $36 million in revenue and has budgeted more than $40 million in expenses. Revenue is expected to drop to about $32 million next year and return to about $34 million by 2014.

Although the library has been in cost-cutting mode for several years,  it has been drawing on reserves, spokesman Jon Barnes said. If the library doesn't bring expenses in line with revenue, the budget gap will be $7.3 million by 2014.

The library plans to hold focus group discussions and staff forums to gather feedback on the cost-cutting options. Public forums are planned for May 10 and May 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Library Services Center, 2450 N. Meridian St. The board is expected to make a decision in June.

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