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Public library looking at funding source for e-books

By Brian Cuaron
Oct. 7, 2011 at 5:07 a.m.
Updated Oct. 8, 2011 at 5:08 a.m.

Dayna Williams-Capone

LIBRARY-MATERIALS BUDGETS

Below are the budgets for library materials of similar-sized city libraries. These numbers only include the parts of the budgets in regards to books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, electronic reference sources, and - in some cases - mp3 and other electronic files.

Libraries are put in order of the cities' population.

Harlingen Public Library

Budget: $107,500

Population: 64,849

Source: Ruben Rendon, library director

Flower Mound Public Library

Budget: $115,000

Population: 64,669

Source: Sue Compton, director of library services

Note: Budget for electronic books and reference materials was unavailable.

North Richland Hills Public Library

Budget: $326,651

Population: 63,343

Source: Mark Mills, budget director for the city

Note: Budget included $60,000 in donations.

Victoria Public Library

Budget: $193,640

Population: 62,592

Source: City of Victoria budget

New Braunfels Public Library

Budget: $185,500

Population: 57,740

Source: Gretchen Pruett, library director

LIBRARY-MATERIALS BUDGET HISTORY

2001: $115,000

2002: $150,000

2003: $150,000

2004: $160,000

2005: $167,000

2006: $168,500

2007: $173,500

2008: $176,500

2009: $184,000

2010: $188,000

2011: $188,000

Note: These years are based on the budget approved that year. The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept, 30.

Source: Dayna Williams-Capone, library director

The Victoria Public Library's budget for reading, listening and viewing materials may continue to grow as officials decide where to get funding for e-books.

The library has budgeted $193,640 for books - almost eight times the value of some residents' homes. The item pays for printed books and reference materials, videos, music, audio books, DVDs and more, said Dayna Williams-Capone, library director.

Victoria's library-materials budget was normal and a little below average compared to other libraries that serve a similar-sized community, Williams-Capone added.

Victoria ranked second in library-materials budgets when compared to four other similar-sized cities in Texas.

"It sounds like a lot of money, but trust me - it doesn't even begin to cover the many, many things that people want from the library," said Sue Compton, director of library services for Flower Mound.

Flower Mound's library-materials budget was $115,000, Compton said. That included DVDs, CDs, books and more, but another part of the budget paid for e-books and reference materials.

The library needed that much money for materials because of the large demand on resources, Compton said.

Ruben Rendon, library director for Harlingen, had a library-materials budget of $107,500. He said that while the budget rose consistently the last 15 years, the money was never enough.

The fact that library visitors want to read the newest materials has driven the New Braunfels Public Library to keep buying books, explained Gretchen Pruett, library director.

But in these tough economic times, libraries across the nation have suffered, said Jerilynn A. Williams, president of the Texas Library Association, which is made up of 7,500 librarians, library staff members and others. In some parts of the nation, some libraries have reduced hours where once their funding was the envy of Texas library staff.

Victoria's library, on the other hand, has seen its budget for library materials grow from $115,000 in the 2001 fiscal year, to $193,640 this year. The increase was related to the natural increase in users and inflation, Williams-Capone said.

The next challenge for the library-materials budget is electronic books or e-books, she said. Victoria's library only has $10,000 budgeted for e-books this year, but funding in the budget could be used for e-books if the need arises.

The library is looking at usage and statistics to see when it needs to allocate more money for e-books, which became a priority as of last year, Williams-Capone said. So far, the library's readers still prefer printed books.

If readers start preferring e-books over printed ones, then Williams-Capone said money would be cut from the printed materials budget to go toward e-books. But if readers want both, she will ask the city for more money.

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