How to Sustainably Fund the Boulder Public Library

The Boulder Public Library has been underfunded since 2002 despite seeing an increase in patron visits and increased library use.  It is now seeking to create a sustainable funding model as it continues to expand services for the community. There will be a Public Panel Discussion: Funding Our Library Future, Monday, Feb 4 2019 a 6p.m. at the Canyon Theater, Main Library branch.



Tim O’Shea, vice-chair of the Boulder Public Library Commission, says that it is crucial that a sustainable funding source is established as it’s currently estimated library funding will fall short by at least $3.2 million every year.

“The majority of the funding [for the library] comes from sales tax and is bundled into the city’s General Fund. We’ve managed to figure out that the budget for running the library annually is about $17 million. The system is not just books and periodicals, its programing in the summer for little ones learning how to read, its for members of our population learning English as their second language or learning how to read later in life, it’s a maker-space… The library really is the place to be.”

Some of the funding options under consideration include:

  • Do nothing; fail to meet community demand & requests for expanded services
  • Reallocate city resources to meet demand for library funding (this would result in a reduction of other city services)
  • Create a citywide dedicated tax for library funding
  • Hold an election to form an independent library district, across Boulder & an expanded service area for residents who also want to fund & use BPL services

The City of Boulder will poll community members about funding options in April.