Colorado Library Districts Thrive While Other Public Library Types Face Big Cuts

Major fiscal changes affected the state’s public libraries in 2002, primarily for the worse, as the impact of last summer’s line-item vetoes and the continuing downturn in state and local budgets left many scrambling for dollars.

For the lucky public libraries which are library districts, however, things don’t seem so dire. In fact, for calendar year 2002, library districts actually significantly increased their per capita funding from 2001. Median local income per capita for library districts jumped nearly 50 percent, with mean per capita income rising more than 20 percent.

In contrast, non-district public libraries have seen their local revenues stagnate or drop during the same period (see Chart 1 in full report). As a result, the average library district is now collecting nearly $18.00 per person more than its non-district counterpart. The mean local income per capita for library districts in 2002 rose to $44.47, while non-district library jurisdictions fell slightly to $26.69. Put another way, public library districts are supported by 67 percent more funding than their non-district cousins.

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