…And how we spend it

By Jeff Cann, ACLS Finance Director

Three months ago, I wrote an article for the Gettysburg Connection explaining where the Adams County Library System funding comes from (https://gettysburgconnection.org/library-funding-101/). Today, I thought I’d give a quick overview of where it goes. The short answer is books, buildings, and people.

adams county library

The library expects to spend $2.8 million dollars in 2023. In the above paragraph, I wrote that we spend our money on books. That makes sense. When you walk into any of our branches, the first thing you notice is all the books. But right now, I’m simply using ‘books’ as a placeholder for our entire collection, which is way more than books.

A library’s collection can be loosely defined as the content available for public use and the direct cost to deliver that content. Some of those direct costs include the annual fee of our catalog system that patrons use to look up and check out books; the cost of super-high-speed internet at our six branches; and the supplies needed to prepare the books, DVDs, etc. for borrowing.  

The rest of our collection funding provides all the things a patron can check out or log into. Of course, these include books, magazines, and DVDs, but also a host of electronic data, including eBooks and eAudio Books, streaming music, more than 7500 digital magazine titles, an online article repository from local and national newspapers, and dozens of other digital resources. In total, ACLS spends fourteen percent of its budget on collection.

With six branches, ACLS has plenty of opportunities to spend money on its buildings. This includes mortgage, rent, HVAC maintenance, property insurance, groundskeeping, equipment purchases and of course, property repair. Lots of property repair. Some problems become so pervasive that they begin to haunt us. The aftermath of Hurricane Ida left us on the favored business list at Servpro Damage Restoration Company; Roto-Rooter has visited our Gettysburg branch three times in the past year to break up clogs deep under Baltimore Street; and we often joke that we should just set up a workstation for the HB McClure team lead (HVAC repair), because he’s here so often.

We’re constantly planning the next repair while simultaneously hoping something else doesn’t (literally) pop out of the woodwork. We’ve budgeted $407K, or 14% of our budget for building expenses. This includes the typical repairs likely to arise during the year but doesn’t account for a major system malfunction or infrastructure repair.

Most of our remaining budget is spent on our employees’ salaries and benefits. This includes the people working at our circulation desks; the staff members presenting over 1,000 story times each year; those helping patrons attach their devices to our databases, ordering new books and DVDs, cataloging those items when they arrive; shelving books, pulling holds, cleaning buildings, managing staff and even paying the bills (me).

Like any business, our budget is a complex dance. Every aspect needs to be optimized, and there never seems to be enough money for any given item. One of our employees tells me she plays Powerball every week in hopes that she’ll one day be able to eliminate all of our financial strains. In the meantime, as responsible stewards of ACLS funds, we continue to allocate our resources as best as we can to keep library operation running smoothly.

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