City Budget Cuts Threaten PCL Services

Since 2009, when PCL took over the operation of the nine neighborhood libraries for the City of Providence, the City has provided PCL annual funding of $3,550,000. This provides approximately 75% of PCL’s annual budget. State library funding provides another 15% of PCL’s funds, and PCL raises the remainder through various forms of fundraising.

In late April Mayor Taveras delivered his proposed budget to the City council for the fiscal year that will begin this July 1. PCL learned after the fact that this budget, established with no input from PCL, included a devastating 10% ($355,000) cut to the amount the City would fund your libraries. Such a cut would have necessitated closing the nine libraries for up to nine weeks. After lobbying by many library supporters, the City Council finance committee on June 5th, restored $150,000 of this amount, but PCL still faces a decrease in City funding of more than $200,000.

Since taking over the nine neighborhood libraries less than three years ago, Providence Community Library has increased the service hours, brought vital educational, economic and cultural programs to the neighborhoods, and increased the number of computers available to the public to more than 200. PCL now delivers more than 85 % of library services for the City of Providence. Last year PCL had 680,000 library visits, and statistics for this year suggest that the patronage has grown.

PCL provides much needed education services to Providence’s immigrant populations. Our ESL classes served over 150 people a week (with long waiting lists). The nine libraries host computer classes in Spanish and English as well as GED classes. In partnership with the Providence School Department, PCL has developed a summer reading program in all nine libraries to prevent the reading loss that plagues too many of our City’s low income children. In September we will begin a Workforce Development Program, in collaboration with the Department of Labor & Training, where some of our libraries will open earlier to enable Providence job seekers to use our computers to create resumes and find jobs.

We have been doing this on the leanest of budgets – one which allows only the minimum staffing necessary to keep our libraries open and offer the many programs we bring to the community. PCL’s annual budget is approximately $4.8 million (PPL claimed that it would cost more than $7 million to operate the nine libraries!). Unfortunately, a cut of $205,000 in City funding will still disrupt library services. We have not yet determined the degree of disruption and are working to minimize it.  We will keep you informed as soon as we know the effect of this cut in City funding but we thank you for your wonderful patronage and support.

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