As was noted in Worcesteria a few weeks back:
JUST GET A KINDLE, I GUESS: For all the talk of the services that the Worcester Public Library performs for Worcester residents, when it comes to budget time more city councilors chose to comb over the library’s $4.36 million fiscal year 2013 budget allocation more critically than the city’s largest tax levy users like the Department of Public Works & Parks and the Worcester Police Department ($42.1 million allocated). At a hearing Tuesday night before the council meeting, a few councilors gave the library’s budget the fine-tooth-comb treatment, even targeting new employee salaries as examples of spending that could come down. Later on in the evening, the Worcester Police Department faced far less question of its spending as councilors actually sought ways to add money for Summer Impact programs and gave the police opportunity to talk about the recent success of fundraisers, youth outreach programs and to reiterate that the city is safe for residents not involved in the drug trade or gang activity. (The DPW&P had a similar opportunity to gripe about issues the week before.) When it was pointed out to City Councilor Konnie Lukes, who tried to pry more information out of the WPD budget to no avail, that the library took more heat than any other department so far, she replied, “Ah, you noticed.”
It’s worth comparing Worcester’s library spending to the other large cities in Massachusetts (Lowell, Cambridge, Springfield, and Boston), and I used the statistics for FY2011 from the MBLC website.
I’ve put a spreadsheet together with three tabs: the Salary tab compares salaries and salary ranges for the cities; the Financial Data tab compares library spending for the cities; the Circulation tab compares circulation rates for the cities.
So, you’ll see that in FY2011, Worcester spent $22.69 from municipal appropriation per capita on library services. Lowell was lower — $8.69 — and the three other cities were far higher. Our circulation is 5 materials per capita, which is higher than Lowell or Springfield, around the same as Boston, and far less than Cambridge.
In the Salary tab, I’ve noted the average for the salaries and hourly rates, and Worcester is usually right around (or under) the average.
None of this information is hard to find, and next year at budget time it might be worth preparing this information in anticipation of questions from city councilors.