Why does the library need this referendum?
While the library has always had an excellent relationship with Borough Council, the library’s funding has been at their discretion. By establishing the library’s own dedicated funding, a successful referendum will enable the library to modernize, improve current offerings, and to stay open for more hours each week. It is difficult for any organization to plan for its future without a source of funding that is stable.
Why is the library underfunded?
While the library has always had an excellent relationship with Borough Council, the library’s funding has been at their discretion. Increases in the library's budget haven't always kept up with the increases in the cost of operations. With its own dedicated and stable funding, the library will be able to modernize, improve current offerings, and to stay open for more hours each week.
What will the library do that it can’t do now?
In order to better serve the community the library wants to extend its Monday hours. Closing early on Monday evenings creates difficulty for students and commuters. Extending Monday hours to 10-8 will particularly aid residents that work all day.
The library wants to enhance its offerings, with additions and supplements to these areas:
- Museum passes
- Circulating tablets and other popular devices
- Employment databases and resources for job seekers
- Genealogy databases
- Enhanced programming for children and adults to promote lifelong learning
- Streaming movies
- Audiobooks streaming
- Music streaming
- Computer services including WiFi
The funding levels on the ballot in 2019 will not only enhance overall library offerings, but will ensure the future of their historic physical structure.
“Why do we need a library when we have the Internet?”
Librarians hear this question a lot given the popularity of the Internet, but the reality is the Internet cannot provide the specialized knowledge available in a 21st century library! From 1991 to 2015, the number of questions the average Pennsylvania library received and answered increased from 2,236 to 56,000 - a 25 fold increase in 14 years. And these days the questions are more complex than before because the easy answers are readily available. Whether it’s for a school project, a genealogy project, technology troubleshooting, or a legal question, librarians lead patrons to the answers they seek.
Additionally, the library provides access to the many people who don't have the internet at home or at work for their basic needs, from checking their email, to school projects, to looking for employment. The library is the essential bridge to the internet for these patrons.
If I don’t use the library, why should a portion of my property taxes support it?
Even if you don’t personally utilize the resources of the library directly, a public library adds value to homes and neighborhoods. This can be measured by proximity.
Additionally, proximity to a library increases spending for those businesses located near the library. “Users who stop at the library while completing a longer list of errands report ‘halo’ spending at firms and establishments close to the library.”
A well-funded library with strong programming can attract large numbers of people, creating economic opportunities for… businesses and organizations in the surrounding area.
Furthermore, libraries support events that promote coming together, strengthening the community as a whole.
Bottom line: A thriving public library is good for the values of homes and good for business. These benefits are enjoyed by residents and business owners, even if they never enter the library or check out a book.
How much will it cost?
The exact cost depends on the assessed value of the property you own. The average household will pay $69.93 for one year, which is under $5.90 per month. The average property owner would recoup the value of this by checking out four books in one year. For comparison, the library’s millage rate would become .55 mills, while Enterprise Fire Company has a budget of .925 mills.
Is it worth the cost?
In 2007, a study co-commissioned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania found that: “Pennsylvania taxpayers can be confident that their direct and indirect return on their investment in public libraries is extensive at about 5.5 to 1.” (Emphasis added).
The report also noted: “Not only do users benefit through excellent services, they gain economically by not having to expend the time and monetary resources to locate and consume alternative, more expensive sources of information.” The study found that, “All citizens and taxpayers, users or not, benefit from public libraries...” (Emphasis added)
See the complete PA Libraries ROI Study here
Living in a town with a viable library provides a number of benefits, including to a someone that will never enter the library.
How did the referendum get on the ballot?
To get a question on the May 21 ballot, 108 registered Hatboro voters needed to sign a petition between Feb 19 and March 12. This number is based upon the voter turnout in the most recent election. When the Yes Committee finally submitted their petitions, they had collected in excess of 260 signatures. The committee is very grateful to all our signers!
What happens if the referendum doesn’t pass in May?
If the referendum doesn't pass, the library will remain dependent on discretionary funding, and will continue to revisit its funding arrangement with Borough Council. While the library has an excellent relationship with the incumbent Council, it has no control over their present or future budgetary decisions. This makes long term planning exceedingly difficult.
The local (Hatboro) funding for the library has always come out of the general fund, at the discretion of the Council. Historically, funding for Union Library has been a priority of Borough Council. But some Pennsylvania libraries with the same background of discretionary funding have had the experience of a newly elected officials arriving who deprioritized the public library. By connecting the voters and library directly, the referendum will ensure the library's independent future regardless of electoral changes.
Find answers to even more FAQ HERE