The Des Plaines Public Library Board recently approved a $6.26 million budget for the 2013 calendar year that includes a 1.5 percent reduction in the levy amount -- roughly $95,000 -- compared to this year's budget.
The board considered reducing the levy amount by 7.5 percent -- roughly $500,000 -- but decided against it, library Director Holly Sorensen said.
"That would have meant cutting staff," Sorensen said. "We don't want to do that. They (board members) prefer to make a smaller cut and to just keep things flat and hope that the economy will improve."
The vote was 7-2 to approve the budget with the 1.5 percent reduction in the levy amount. Members Dion Kendrick and Eugene Fregetto cast the dissenting votes.
Sorensen said officials have kept expenses stable for the past couple of years. In 2011, library staff members did not receive pay raises, and this year the board capped raises at 1 percent based on a merit system.
"It's helped build up our fund balance," she said. "We're projecting at the end of this year to have a $2.4 million fund balance. We're hoping to bump (raises) up to 1.5 percent next year."
Sorensen said the budget does not include any significant increases in expenditures, except for a few capital projects.
The budget includes $85,000 for the reorganization of wired computer terminals for public use on the library's fourth floor, and $80,000 for purchasing new chairs for the third and fourth floors and meeting rooms.
"All the wired computers are scattered around the floor," she said. "We've been able to reduce the print reference collection enough to move it, and move all the technology into one space and have the help desk right in the center."
With use of print materials on the decline, the library is investing more funds into electronic resources by adding downloadable magazines, Sorenson said. It may add downloadable movies next year.
The library also has been digitizing some of its print resources on the website desplainesmemory.org in partnership with the Des Plaines History Center. Visitors will find a collection of old phone books to help with online genealogy research, as well as local newspapers and historical photographs from the History Center's collection.
"This is the direction things are moving ... it's more of an (electronic) world now," Sorensen said.
The library's budget must still be approved by the Des Plaines City Council, which levies the funds for the municipal library. It will be discussed during the city council's budget review meetings in October. The city council cannot actually reject the library budget, but aldermen can recommend or suggest changes, Sorensen said.