A Message from the Friends President on Proposed Library Budget Cuts

Dear Friend of MPL,

Monterey Public Library faces an unprecedented emergency.

The City of Monterey projects a $31 million revenue loss in the current and upcoming fiscal years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The City Council has the difficult task of closing this gap. The Council has approved staff layoffs effective June 2. The City Manager and staff have proposed a budget reduction plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The total proposed reduction is 18.9% of the City General Fund Budget. The Library proposed reduction is at least 60.2% of the Library General Fund Budget. (There is some uncertainly about the final figure.)

16 out of 19 regular library staff positions will be eliminated this coming week. The proposed budget restores just one of these positions after the Library reopens, along with some part-time hours for laid-off staff.

A cut of this magnitude will have a devastating impact on service to the Monterey community, which may long outlast the current pandemic and fiscal emergency.

The City Council will discuss the proposal on June 2 and may approve a revised budget on June 16. There is still time for you to communicate your views about the budget plan and the value of City services. 

Here are some points I will raise with the Council. You may wish to add others.

  • We recognize that the crisis is real, and cuts must be based on community priorities rather than applied across the board. However, cutting the library more than 60% when the average reduction is less than 20% does not accurately reflect the value of library services to the community.
  • The library is particularly important during economic hard times and particularly valuable to those most in need, providing practical information on topics like job hunting, free resources for education and recreation, and a vital source of inspiration, solace, and community.
  • By encouraging literacy, supporting formal education, and fostering community, the library contributes to public safety, now and for decades to come.
  • Library programs and services for children, online and in the library when it reopens, are a lifeline for Monterey families facing extraordinary demands as a result of the pandemic.
  • Libraries play an essential role in a democracy, providing information to help people vote and participate in government. This is particularly important in an election year filled with misinformation and disinformation.
  • Staff layoffs represent an enormous loss of expertise and institutional knowledge in the library. The cuts will lead to dismantling systems and programs that have been developed over many years to serve the community. It will be difficult or impossible to restore the kind of library service Monterey expects after the fiscal emergency ends.

Thank you very much for your support for Monterey Public Library!

Doug Holtzman
Monterey Public Library Friends & Foundation