Declining energy revenues are affecting county library budgets throughout the state. For FY 16, most Wyoming libraries are finding the funds to support staffing, but a slowdown in the energy sector is creating challenges. Directors in Carbon, Converse, Park, Sheridan and Sublette counties all reported downturns that have impacted their budgets. The one exception was Laramie County Library System where oil industry equipment sales in the eastern part of the county are up.
Sheridan County Public Library System offset some of the cuts by pulling from cash reserves, but was told to expect 15-20% cuts in 2016-17. Park County Library was also cautioned about the prospect of future cuts.
Despite tightening budgets, or the prospect of cuts, library boards are choosing to support staffing. Nearly all libraries said they have cost of living raises or an increase in staff hours. Many reported higher benefit costs, but most were absorbing the increases and not passing them along to employees. However, Sheridan County, facing a more serious situation, reduced four part-time employees’ hours, eliminated one part-time position and passed along health care cost increases to staff.
The bulk of cuts appear to occur in materials and open hours. Albany and Sheridan counties have eliminated Sunday hours. Carbon, Park, and Sheridan counties report cutting materials budgets – Sheridan by 19%. On a more positive note, Lincoln County Library System is moving forward with early literacy initiative and more audio-visual and e-resources to support community needs, and the Glenrock Branch Library is increasing its open hours.
Budgets total just under $35 million for the 22 library systems that reported their numbers to the Wyoming State Library. The one non-reporting library (Uinta) had a budget just under $675,000 in FY15.
The full 2016 budget report is posted at will.state.wy.us/statistics/. Prior years’ budget reports are also available on that page. Questions on the annual budget survey may be directed to Thomas Ivie, Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-777-6330.