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Article posted: 8/2/2013 12:01 AM

Gail Borden to add staff, open digital media lab

By Elena Ferrarin

Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin plans to hire a few part-time staff members this year -- something it hasn't done in several years, officials said.

This year's $12 million operating budget also includes capital projects such as a new digital media lab, audio enhancements for the two main meeting rooms, a protective wall for the DVD dispenser outside the library's Rakow branch, and the first part of a two-year replacement of HVAC compressors, said Denise Raleigh, the library's division chief for public relations and development.

The fiscal year began July 1 and the library board approved a working budget at the last meeting and is expected to formally adopt the budget in September, she said.

The library has 124.5 full-time equivalent staff members and will be adding 6.5 full-time equivalent staff members, including a digital media educator and a part-time staffer at the Rakow branch, Raleigh said. Personnel expenses total $6.6 million.

In the last few years, the library has replaced outgoing full-time staffers with part-time personnel, she said.

"We're proud of the fact that we use our funding very efficiently," Raleigh said. "When you compare us with some of the larger libraries in the metro area, we are definitely thinly staffed. It hasn't been a problem, but there is a need."

This year's projected expenses represent a $500,000 increase over last fiscal year's $11.5 million budget. However, a few expenses budgeted last year -- such as the digital media lab -- were postponed, so actual expenses were $10.7 million, Raleigh said.

The SuperCroc exhibit running through Aug. 18 pushed back the completion of the digital media lab, which will be stocked for video and sound recording, photography, design, game development, editing and remixing, Raleigh said.

"It was envisioned for use by young people. But we plan for others in the community to also be able to use it as well," Raleigh said, adding that the Meadows family of Elgin contributed a donation for the lab.

Architectural drawings are expected to be done in September, with the lab finished early next year, she said.

The main library in downtown Elgin also is getting two DVD dispensers, a donation from the Cedar Rapids Public Library in Iowa, she added.

The library has a little less than three months' worth of operating costs in reserves. "We are talking to a financial consultant about whether this should be increased, but no determination has been made at this time," Raleigh said.

The owner of a home worth $150,000 paid $192.70 to the library district for operating expenses and $19.59 for library pensions in 2012.

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