Since You Asked: Library books and the budget

Can you tell me what percentage of the library's annual funding goes to buying new books? Last time I went to the library, most of the books on the shelf, particularly the reference materials, were outdated.

— Chuck B., Medford

Chuck, the Jackson County library book budget took a pretty deep dip this year because of budget cuts countywide, but things are looking up, library staff say.

During the 2012-13 fiscal year, Jackson County Library Services allocated 12 percent — $730,000 — of its general fund to the book budget. That included $48,000 for magazines, $16,000 for newspapers such as yours truly, $45,000 for reference materials, $94,000 for nonfiction books and $123,000 for fiction books.

Movies, books on tape, children's books and e-books also are covered by this fund, said JCLS Business Manager Lisa Garcia.

"Our book budget compared to the state is a good one," she added.

That was until last year when all county departments took major cuts — 17 percent in some cases — explained Wende Glimpse, library branch services manager.

"It hurt," she said. "Ouch."

For the libraries, it meant decreasing the book budget by $130,000 for 2013-14.

As a result, the library budgeted only $31,600 for magazines, $11,200 for newspapers, $29,500 for reference materials, $68,900 for nonfiction and $88,900 for fiction.

Among the reference materials that were trimmed were "Who, What and Where of America: Understanding the American Community Survey" ($205), "Women in American Politics: History and Milestones" ($446) and the "Dewey Decimal Classification and Relative Index" ($635).

Glimpse said the library also is spending less money on reference materials and instead is subscribing to more online databases and resources, including Chilton, do-it-yourself automotive repair guide; Ancestry.com, a resource for genealogy records; and Morningstar, a financial database.

Next year, 2014-15, the library book budget is expected to be about $775,000, Garcia said.

Chuck, you may find more current editions then.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501 or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com.


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