Saturday, August 24, 2013

A partial victory for a literate community. Miami Herald: Miami-Dade County will no longer close any public libraries.

Miami-Dade County will no longer close any public libraries - Miami-Dade -

The people have spoken loudly and the message was heard, partially.  There is more work to do. We cannot allow our public library system to be rendered useless through lack of access (greatly reduced operating hours).

Thank you to those who fought so hard in the Save The Miami-Dade Public Libraries Campaign and many local elected officials such as Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner (once again, Palmetto Bay officials are missing on this important issue of neighborhood protection).  There is more to do and ample opportunities to finish the fight to have a culturally literate community.

I never doubted that Miami-Dade County would find a way to keep OUR libraries open, (7/13/13, Here we go again with the same old tax time games: County may shutter 42 libraries, lay off 260 employees) but now we need to continue the work to also convince the County Commission that the programs are important as well.   169 librarians are at risk to their jobs by Oct. 1, and libraries would operate about three-quarters of the hours they do now. All libraries may see their hours and days of operation cut, including those in Cutler Bay, Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay.

All these facts are presented in the updated Miami Herald article Miami-Dade County will no longer close any public libraries (8/24/13, By Patricia Mazzei). The board is scheduled to meet Monday morning to discuss the most recent 2013-14 budget projections, following its decision last month to keep the property-tax rate flat despite the service cuts and employee layoffs that would follow as a result.

In a memo to commissioners, Gimenez said the county must consider the library department’s long-term future, including altering its funding structure. Libraries rely on taxes separately from those that go to the county’s general fund.

“To move toward a sustainable library system in the future, we must shift out perspective on how library services in Miami-Dade County are currently funded,” the mayor wrote in his memo.

I would argue that anyone who thinks libraries are irrelevant or obsolete have obviously do not have children or has not been to a library lately. Libraries (through the Librarians and Staff) provide significant programing for our readers and community in general.

Who here wants to speak up in support of illiteracy? Thank you Pinecrest for the support, you have been loud and clear, but the silence of the Palmetto Bay current electeds by not standing up for the libraries, speaks volumes. Silence is not golden on this issue.

6:00 PM Update: I was provided the URL for the Save The Miami-Dade Public Libraries blog. CLICK HERE. Thanks for the e-mail update!


  1. County Commissioner Souto fights to keep the libraries open:

  2. Gene, everyone on the first council fought so hard for that library. My daughter loves it. Please fight for reasonable hours of operation.

    This is another example of this council having been spoiled by not having to do any hard work. Shelley is lazy.

  3. Oh the sad story. The library staff was cut by 150 full timers and 100 part timers in 2011 after $7.5 million was raided from the special taxing district. The money was dispersed as grants to UM, city of Coral Gables, Seraphic Fire, Frost School of Music, The Arsht Center and other high end organizations through the Dept. of Cultural Affairs. Not one tax payer was asked if their "special taxing district" money should go to art exhibits and music concerts. Not one taxpayer was asked if they preferred to having their Regional library open on a Sunday and have the free Science, Math and Reading tutoring program instead of these affluent organizations goven subsidies. Sunday hours and tutoring were cancelled in 2010.

    So now, were you asked if you mind having no books, DVDs, Ebooks, children's books, time with a children's librarian, attending a book club, attending a baby lapsit or a toddler time, a creative writing class, losing the online computer course through learning express, losing learning a foreign language through Mango languages. All this is unaffordable based on the Mayor's poor planning and management skills. In his video interview with the Miami Herald editorial board he says, "we knew this day was coming two years ago." Now with each building being inadequately staffed, there are safety issues that need to be addressed. Three staff are expected to run the Palmetto Bay branch library over 40 hours (down from four.) Five staff are expected to run the Pinecrest Branch (down from eight.) Other than open and close and work the public service desks, there can be no additional services. The South Dade Regional was the source that would provide fill-in staff when these two locations needed help. SDR goes from 17 to 12 for six days of service in a two story building. They will not have staff to send.

  4. The MDPLS materials budget includes books, magazines, newspapers, downloadable Ebooks and audiobooks, homework databases, and many other shared community resources.

    FY2002-03 - $5,511,000
    FY2003-04 - $6,200,000
    FY2004-05 - $6,823,000
    FY2005-06 - $6,750,000
    FY2006-07 - $7,000,000
    FY2007-08 - $5,500,000
    FY2008-09 - $5,500,000
    FY2009-10 - $2,949,000
    FY2010-11 - $2,375,000
    FY2011-12 - $1,600,000
    FY2012-13 - $2,200,000 ($1,600,000 + $600,000 State Aid)
    FY2012-13, there were 49 locations and two book mobiles, $500,000 in database access.

    Pending for FY 2013-14, there are submitted scenarios of $500k, $750k, $1M and $$1.5M.

    Library's Millage Rates:
    .4860 in 2005
    .4860 in 2006
    .3842 in 2007
    .3822 in 2008 National Award Winning Library System
    .3822 in 2009
    .2840 in 2010
    .17950 in 2011 Gimenez came into office: 300 employes laid off, hours cut.
    .17250 in 2012

    .17250 Pending for FY 2013-14 Facing 169 layoffs and another 1/4 reduction in operating hours.

    Did we ever have a chance, when the biggest cut came in 2011 with our Mayor in office?

  5. Compare MDPLS to our neighbors...
    Broward County Budget for Libraries – FY 2012:
    FY 12 Budget: $58,935,960
    Positions: 654
    Branches: 40
    Welcome to the Broward County Library – the ninth largest library system in the United States. Our 40 branch locations cover more than one million square feet, host over 10 million visitors and circulate nine million items annually.
    Broward County Library has more than one million library card holders who can choose from over three million library materials for public use. The library receives 90,000 requests for items on hold each month.


    Hillsborough County's 2013 materials budget is $5,034,834 for 30 locations (including bookmobile, cybermobile for Spanish speakers, and their talking books).

    In FY 2012-13, MDPLS has 49 branches with 440 staff. As of October 1st, your access to library services is drastically slashed and your access to books and other materials is horribly limited. 169 full timers are targeted plus 40 vacancies plus 50 (19 hour a week) part-timers. 271 older employees with seniority will carry the load for the diminished public service.

  6. Hey Palmetto Bay- no worries! You get to keep your 40 hours of library operations! Unfortunately, places like Little River, Lemon City, & Edison only get 16 hours a week. - Patti Antoncich