Friends of the Library









Some Facts and FAQ about the Chelmsford Public Library


Please read the letter from Friends President, Madeleine Needles, concerning potential cuts to Library funding for fiscal year 2010.


Library Facts & Statistics

Registered Library Patrons: 29,000

Circulation Levels:
2001: 300,000 items
2009: 600,000 items

2001: 28.15 FTE's
2009: 23.02 FTE's (this represents a loss of 9 full and part-time positions or 5 FTE’s - that’s one-fifth of the staff)


Frequently asked questions about the Library and its budget shortfall

Q. What is the proposed budget for FY 2010?
A. For FY10, we need to have a library budget of $1,550,097 to meet the municipal requirement for state aid certification.
The Town manager’s recommended budget for FY10 is $1,394,455 or $155,642 below what we need to qualify for state aid.

Q. Can the Library apply for a waiver during these tough economic times?
A. Yes, but we still have certain criteria that we have to meet:

  • We have to make sure that the Library's budget reduction was not disproportionate to other town departments.
  • We need to be open 63 hours per week for a municipality our size
  • We need to have qualified professional librarians.
  • And we also need to have a book budget that is 13% of our total budget. Currently we are approximately $50,000 below that level.
  • If at least $50,000 were restored to the budget, we could qualify for a waiver and for certification and gain another $50,000 in state aid.

Q. What does maintaining state certification mean to us?

A. State certification offers Libraries the following:

  • A cushion in bad budget years – this year is a perfect example
  • Allows our patrons to physically go to other libraries in our consortium and use them and to request and borrow items from other libraries via interlibrary loan -- Chelmsford is the largest user of interlibrary loan of any town in the consortium, and processed 150,000 requests last year. The library could not replace these books we borrow from other libraries without a major expenditure outside of our current budget.
  • Allows us to share an automated catalog with 35 other libraries
  • Brings in an average of $55,000 additional state aid dollars each year
  • Makes us eligible for state grants such as the One Book program grant

Q. Why don’t you close the MacKay Branch?

A. Eight years ago the library budget took a hit much like it will be taking this coming year. The budget was cut by more than $100,000 and at that time the trustees chose to reduce the hours at the MacKay Library. The branch went from being open six days a week to four. The Branch Librarian position was eliminated and the MacKay book budget reduced. It was a prudent choice at the time and despite the reduction in hours library circulation at the branch continued to flourish.

With this FY09 mid-year cut, the trustees chose to reduce the MacKay hours again, shortening the day on Monday and closing on Saturdays.

With the FY10 budget, we are looking at a possible 2 day schedule, typical of a branch library hours in a town our size.

MacKay is busy too. Its circulation for this year is up by 30% -- Their portion of our overall circulation of 600,000 is averaging at about 5,000 a month or 60,000 transactions a year – 10% of our total circulation.
To put that into a dollars and cents perspective – For FY 2010 the MacKay Branch portion of the library budget will be just a little over $65,000 or 4.6% of the total library budget. So it does 10% of our business for 4.6 % of our budget. It’s a very good deal.

If the town chose to close MacKay.
We would still need to spend:

  • $16,000 for the book budget to reach state aid certification level – determined by total population of the town – (If we remain certified, the library receives an additional $55,000 in state aid for library expenses)
  • $35,000 to retain staffing that would provide additional story times, book groups and cover desk times at the main library which would be necessary to deal with the additional 60,000 transactions that will now occur at the main library (And they will come to the main library --when the branch closed for renovation, we had a significant jump in circulation and story time attendance at the main library)
  • $5,000 for heat and electricity and the attendant costs for dismantling the collection, de-accessioning materials -- (Yearly expenses for heat, electricity, phone costs average $750 per month for a yearly sum of close to $10,000)
  • Actual savings to the town after paying the above would be approximately $9,000

Other important considerations:
If the MacKay Branch closed, the town would end up with a building that is no longer viable for other town services – the will of the MacKay family states that if the house is no longer used as a library, then the property will revert to the MacKay heirs. So the town would lose the building -- the neighborhood library -- the community history. Residents would lose close to 100 years of service to the North Chelmsford community for a gain of about $9,000.

Q. Is Fundraising an option?
A. Many residents have asked about fundraising to come up with the $50,000 to help us get a waiver so that we can remain certified. This is a generous offer, but it’s important to remember that this will only help for that one year. We will need to come up with a plan long-term as to how to remain certified. The actual dollar amount that we are below the certification level is $156,000 - so we will have to make up that difference in future years when a waiver is no longer an option. Asking townspeople to donate $156,000 each year could prove to be a burden for our residents. Hopefully the economy will turn around in the not too distant future and the budget can be restored.