OR – How does GPL have the money for all these renovations? Aren’t they broke?
It doesn’t seem possible that it was only four years ago that GPL hit headline-worthy financial problems. And yet today we are financially stable and tackling long-delayed building maintenance and improvement projects that seemed impossible a few short years ago. Many have asked how we have managed to make such a turnaround. It’s a valid question, and we are more than happy to share the good news.
The deep and immediate budget cuts we implemented in 2012 were key in our recovery. We reduced our budget drastically for several years in order to climb out of a hole half the size of our budget, adjust spending, and protect ourselves from future crises. With hard work we spent two and a half years accomplishing our five year recovery plan, and spent another year and a half continuing to build our reserves. Even in 2015 we were still spending almost $400,000 less than the library spent in 2011.
But before we had a chance to truly recover, we found that critical facility needs could no longer be deferred. Our HVAC system and lift stations were on life support and failing fast. Our parking lot was crumbling. Repeated flooding plagued the children’s department and repairs drained our tenuous savings. In 2014, we were fortunate to secure a $1,000,000 G.O. Bond for construction as well as a $310,000 collaborative agreement with the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission. These funds were earmarked for our new HVAC system, gutter repair, flooring, parking lot, and sidewalks. Over the last four years, our amazing Friends of GPL have also contributed almost $350,000 for everything from books to programs to our remodeled teen room. As they say, it takes a village.
So, on the solid side of our turnaround, our library is now in the midst of its first renovations in 14 years. We are taking baby steps toward improvements that will help our library function more efficiently. We are making room for new journeys and new discoveries all over the library, and we can’t wait to share them with you. But as we began to create new spaces, it was clear that some furnishings and favorites need to find new homes. As we wondered what to do with our used but still useable furniture, we met the wonderful staff from the Peru Public Library.
The Peru Public Library has had a struggle of their own as they work to renovate their 1903 Carnegie library on a very, very tight budget. Their community believes in them, and they received a grant to fund a partial renovation on a building that had not had a remodel since 1920, but there are many gaps they cannot afford to fill. They need a little help – and we know just what that feels like. In their case, they are desperate for furniture. We are donating chairs as well as some shelving and displays. And perhaps closest to our heart, they have already adopted our beloved train. If you have read Circus in Winter by Cathy Day, you will know that Peru is a train town. Perfect! And so a wonderful and unexpected opportunity has resulted from our turnaround – the chance to pay it forward just as so many have done for us.
Does this success story mean that Greenwood Public Library is set for life? Are we finished needing aid of any sort? Not at all. We know more than ever before that we have only succeeded because of our partners, and we will only continue to stand strong with their help. For our part, you need to know that the library is committed to spending your tax dollars strategically and transparently with a view to the future. You can also be assured that funds from community partners and the Friends of the Library will be used to help us provide truly transformative services and keep us moving forward with programs and special projects.
You are a partner in this work, whether through your tax dollars or through your donations to the Friends of the Greenwood Public Library, and that investment is what makes transformative services possible. Because of you and your support, GPL will enter its 99th year busy, healthy, and vibrant. Thank you!
By the numbers:
Heating and Air Conditioning: $770,000
Parking Lot, Drainage, and Sidewalks: $309,999
Gutter work: 60,000
New lift stations: $24,000
Flooring Project: $215,000
Funds specifically for these projects:
2014 Construction G.O. Bond Revenue: $1,000,000
2014 RDC Collaborative Project Funding: $309,999
2015 Additional Appropriation (savings): $100,000