Amid record checkouts, Library looks to boost book budget
Published on September 19, 2022
What it does: Boosts the purchasing budget for the first time in seven years.
What’s the benefit to taxpayers? Expands the addition of books, eBooks and resources available to the public.
What’s the budget proposal: Increase of $771,920 in purchasing budget to expand the Library’s collection.
What’s next: The City Council is slated to consider approval of the 2023 budget on Sept. 27.
It’s been seven years since the budget to buy more reading material at the Fort Worth Public Library has increased.
In that time, four new libraries have opened and a global pandemic encouraged readers to turn to libraries for a variety of free resources. To serve Fort Worth’s growing population, the Library offers job training resources, take-home enrichment kits for all ages, musical instruments for checkout and more. And there have been no fees charged to users since October 2019.
“I would say to someone who has not visited the Fort Worth Public Library in a while – there is so much offered to you besides books,” said Fort Worth resident Barbara Williams. She cited public computers, genealogy resources and the annual Mayor’s Summer Reading Challenge as just a few of the Library’s offerings.
“Each community needs a center, a place that offers help, resources, entertainment and a feeling of being safe. That should be every city’s library.”
Record checkouts reflect Library’s popularity
For some, the Library’s digital resources are a part of their daily routine that is just as valuable as visiting a physical location. This proved true during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also applies today.
“I'm a huge reader and don't get to stop by a physical branch as often as I'd like, but I use the Libby app daily,” said Alexandria Reyes, another Fort Worth resident and Library user. “It's nice to be able to get a new book at any time for free, and I read so much more than I probably would without it.”
There is also a social component to the Library for Reyes, who has joined a monthly book club.
In the proposed 2023 budget, the Library’s purchasing for physical and digital materials is boosted by $771,920 to accommodate trending increase in use. In fiscal year 2021, the Library saw 1 million checkouts of digital resources such as eBooks for the first time. That record has been broken in 2022, with already more than 1 million digital checkouts as of July. Check out of all library items as of July is more than 2.9 million.
“The Fort Worth Public Library strives to be an open and welcoming place for everyone, and our residents are telling us that they love what we are offering,” said Library Director Manya Shorr. “We are thankful to be able to add even more items to the collection.”
The Library’s total proposed budget represents 2.8% of the City’s General Fund.
More library developments
There are other big changes in the works for the Library.
In far southwest Fort Worth, a new 18,000-square-foot library is taking shape at McCart Avenue and Risinger Road and is expected to open in 2023. Construction of the $9.6 million facility is funded through the City’s 2018 bond program. The Library’s staffing budget will increase by $504,737 to fund the 14 additional positions needed to operate the new library.
Another new library in far north Fort Worth was approved by voters as a part of the 2022 bond program.
The Central Library at 500 W. Third St. in downtown is being sold as part of a larger City plan to operate more efficiently. Officials are working to locate another permanent space for the Central Library downtown.
The Library’s archives and genealogy/local history services is moving to the former Seminary South Branch Library location, 501 E. Bolt St., to operate the Fort Worth History Center and will open Saturday Oct. 22. The move will make those resources more accessible, and also add dedicated programming space for history-related events.
Learn more about the Library.
Photo: New physical and digital materials are coming to Library locations, thanks to increased spending that reflects an upward trend in use.
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