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Eugene Public Library Levy Report Year Three

Eugene Public Library supports an informed community, lifelong learning and the love of reading by providing access for all city residents to the universe of ideas and information.

For nearly 120 years EPL has been helping people find what they’re looking for. Today, that idea of access has expanded. More than 3,000 people use the Library each day. This includes the traditional circulation of books and resources and also access to a wide variety of digital offerings and skill-building resources like the Maker Hub and Media Lab.

Eugene Library is a place for everyone. We host free cultural and educational programs for all ages that support a lifelong love of reading and provide a focus on literacy and informing our community.

Your Eugene Public Library card is now more powerful than ever. On Nov. 3, 2015, voters approved a five-year local option operating levy (Measure 20-235) to fund expanded services, increased hours, free programs and materials and technology.

No matter what you are looking for, EPL strives to help you find your next adventure.

This report covers the time period of July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.

2019 Lasers at the Library

As anyone who enters our doors can attest, Eugene Public Library is much more than books and resources. Well balanced and diverse programming, coupled with a patron first service approach, makes EPL a partner with our public. Adults, teens and kids alike are informed, entertained and inspired at our programs, and our community has access to new and emerging technologies through our Maker Hub and Media Lab.

Our levy promise was to increase events by a third over the life of the levy.

In FY 2019 EPL presented almost 2,300 programs to more than 65,000 participants. This exceeds our goal of 1,800 programs.

The programs included language-rich activities for young readers. Each week, the Library offers 12 story times plus an offsite Storytime-To-Go program. We held 791 free programs offered for young readers with 27,206 participants in FY 2019.

As our young readers progress into their teen and young adult years, we adjust our approach to meet them where they are. Since 2018, EPL has joined a national trend to engage teens by focusing on hanging out, messing around and geeking out. This has increased opportunities for young adults; and hundreds of teens experience safety, support and inspiration in the Library each day.

We saw huge strides in this effort. Teen programming and attendance was our largest area of growth. We nearly doubled teen-specific programming to 355 activities and we increased attendance by 87 percent.

It's not just programs we promised to increase.

We also said we’d add more Maker opportunities. In addition to Maker programs that are open to everyone, Library cardholders have access to workshops and independent project work in our Maker Hub and Media Lab in the Downtown Library. These spaces allow community members to learn and experiment with new digital and technological tools without having to invest in them at home. Nearly 3,000 people used the spaces in FY 2019.

The Teen Center

at the Downtown Library has been expanded and remodeled to serve changing needs and help young adults in a variety of life areas, and this focus has helped bring more teens into a supportive environment downtown. The positive impact has gone beyond just providing access and a safe space, though. The Teen Services team and our community partners helped spearhead an effort with local nonprofit 15th Night to put on a clothing drive, and more than 80 youth from all walks of life were able to get clothes, hygiene products, blankets, backpacks and more. EPL relies on its partners, 4J and Bethel school districts and volunteers to fulfill our promises to the public.

Anther cornerstone of the EPL mission is to be responsive to community needs and maintain a diverse collection of materials. That includes making items available in print and digital formats to meet everyone’s preferences and needs.

Our levy promise was to return the Library's budget for books, movies, eBooks, etc. to pre-recession levels, providing quicker availability of in-demand items to increase internet access at Bethel and Sheldon branches.

Eugene Public Library plays a critical role in bridging the digital divide through internet access and online training. This benefits the public in everything from job hunting to staying in touch with distant loved ones. A total of 159 computers are available to community members, including laptops that can be borrowed at Bethel and Sheldon branches. Also in FY 2019, we increased the number of computers available for use without a library card.

Streaming services

dominate the online landscape and their cost is a barrier for many households. That’s where EPL can help. In meeting our commitment to more access and materials, EPL cardholders now have free access to Kanopy, a premium streaming service that offers more than 30,000 movies, documentaries, and educational videos. Watch up to 10 free films a month on your TV, computer, phone or tablet. Plus stream an unlimited number of titles from The Great Courses and Kanopy Kids collections. It’s just one more way your EPL card saves you money and delivers the things you want.

Access to the universe of ideas and knowledge is a cornerstone of our mission at Eugene Public Library. Whether in person or online, access to free materials helps create an informed community.

Our levy promise was to increase hours (22 hours/week) at Bethel and Sheldon branches and restore Sunday morning hours at the Downtown Library.

We’ve done that, and this expansion provides increased opportunities for cardholders to borrow materials and use resources. In FY 2019, the Library had more than 1.1 million visits. Our circulation reached almost 3 million physical and digital items and total registered borrowers increased by 3,700 to 111,465.

EPL continues to reach beyond its brick and mortar roots. Staff and volunteers participated in nearly 350 offsite programs, reaching more than 9,000 people. The addition of a library-branded van has supported more access by increasing visibility and making offsite outreach easier.

FINE-FREE FOR YOUTH!

Access has been a priority for EPL, and we are already working on year four. Starting Jan. 1, 2020 Eugene Public Library no longer charges overdue fines on children’s and teen items. Addition- ally, existing overdue fines for children’s and teen items have been removed from accounts. As a result, many Eugene Public Library cards that were blocked because of overdue fines are again free to use. This new policy aims to promote early literacy and reading among all Eugene youth by making library use easier and more accessible.

“We love to see parents and kids leaving with armfuls of books to read together. And to see teens exploring and borrowing big piles of books. Overdue fines can get in the way. Plus, the fines can easily add up, which hits low-income families especially hard.” — Kris Thorpe, Youth Services Manager

Eugene Public Library meets the ever-changing needs of Eugeneans. And we think trust and libraries go hand in hand. During a deep five-year study completed in 2016, the Pew Research Center found trust in libraries remained high because of their proven ability to curate and share reliable knowledge.

Our levy promise is to ensure accountability and transparency.

In the measure, we promised to separate levy fund budgeting and accounting per state law, to prepare an annual staff summary of spending and performance measures, an annual review by the citizen Library Advisory Board and to give an annual City Council.

Before the levy was passed, EPL’s level of service was supported by $10.6 million per year from the City of Eugene’s general fund, plus donated funds.

The Library Local Option Levy is set at $2.7 million per year for 5 years, in accordance with state law restrictions regarding how levies are structured. As with the first two years of the levy, some FY 2019 funds have been intentionally reserved as part of budget planning for the full five years. While the levy will provide the same amount of revenue each year, spending will increase each year due to ongoing expansion of services as well as increased costs, inflation and other factors. Funds are budgeted in order to ensure the ability to fulfill levy promises throughout the full five years.

Levy 20-235

This report shows one side of the levy story. One of promises made and promises kept. The greater picture, though, shows how increased access, programs and materials contribute to a more informed and engaged community, and this is evident in countless stories from the public.

After all, libraries are not just about books, they are about people. Expansion of services provided by the levy helped EPL meet the needs identified by our community and meet people where they are. Library staff, partners and volunteers spend every year supporting an informed community and fostering lifelong learning and a love for reading. That’s at the heart of our work.

We’re committed to free access to the universe of ideas and information for our community. We want to serve our community through changing times. That dedication allows EPL to adapt and remain essential to the lives of residents, and it keeps the Library a truly public space.

Ongoing levy information is available to the public at eugene-or.gov/levyinfo. This report will also be available online after review from the Library Advisory Board and City Council.