The library is doing a survey to help plan for our future.  If you did not receive a survey in the mail, you can pick one up at the library.

The board would like to gauge the community's attitude concerning a ballot issue before moving forward. If the board does decide to ask the voters for further support, it would most likely be sometime in 2019.

We feel that increased support for the library is necessary at this time because with a 50-year-old building — the University City Public Library was built in 1969 — we are one or two unexpected major building repairs away from having to cut services. It is a lovely building and we hope to be here forever, but we need to renovate, repair, and upgrade the building in a way that we cannot currently afford.

Much of the building’s infrastructure, parts of the HVAC system, the electrical system, and the phone system need to be replaced or upgraded. Some of these systems or their parts are newer than the building, but still need replacement. Other major systems, such as the building’s lighting and the fire and burglar alarm systems, will have to be upgraded, and some form of fire suppression system will likely have to be added. More visible to the public, our main floor bathrooms need to be completely renovated to improve lighting and accessibility.

We have trimmed our staffing down as far as we can without cutting services. The Library last went to the voters in 1990. Since that time services in libraries have expanded to include computers, databases, wifi, ebooks and downloadable audiobooks, and other formats, all of which increase our costs.

To give a concrete example, when we buy a book now, we often also purchase the ebook and a downloadable audiobook. These newer formats now make up about 10% or our total circulation. Many publishers have decided to set pricing for electronic resources to libraries at a significantly higher price than they have set for print books or for the ebook to individuals. For example, while an individual can purchase the new Bill Clinton and James Patterson book, The President Is Missing, from Amazon for $17.99, and the Kindle version for $14.99, the cost to a library for the ebook is $85. We try to buffer these expenses by sharing collections (we share our Overdrive collection with 8 other municipal libraries), and by using services with different pricing models (Hoopla charges a per use fee) but costs for these items continue to rise.

Much of what we provide the public in terms of technology continues to increase in price. We have worked very hard to get grant funding for a great deal of these equipment purchases, and we will continue to apply for grants, but some of the cost for much-needed technology must come from the Library’s funding. The Library was built before computers were commonplace, and adding power, outlets, and cabling for high-speed internet is difficult and expensive in our very solid brick and concrete building.

Our staff has been relentless at applying for and receiving grants, which have allowed us to add services that benefit all University City residents. For example, we have added outreach to early literacy centers in the community and we have removed fines for our youngest users.

We believe that the citizens of University City need and deserve a better Library and better Library services than we can currently provide. We are beginning to explore how to both continue to provide the services our citizens need and to improve the Library as a whole.

If you have any questions about the survey please call Library Director Patrick Wall at 314-727-3150.