This week I’d like to do a roundup of some library financial

First, effective June 1, we doubled the fines for overdue
materials. We continue to offer a few days grace for such materials
— and if you give us your e-mail address, we’ll even remind you to
bring things back the day before they are due.

In brief, fines for most materials went from a nickel a day to a
dime a day. Our fines do max out for most materials at $5 per item.
While this probably won’t be a big money maker for us, we hope it
will encourage people to help us keep our materials moving. There’s
a lot of demand for them these days.

Second, before we replaced our traditional checkout system with
self-check machines and automated check-in systems, we had a
growing problem with repetitive motion injuries. Our staff members
were moving literally millions of items per year, and paying for it
with their health. For the past couple of years, in addition to our
self-check systems, we’ve initiated a variety of safety measures.
I’m pleased to announce that we just got a dividend from our
workers compensation insurance company in the amount of $34,000 —
the largest check they have ever written for the largest reduction
in claims they have ever seen. Our rates are going down, too.
That’s good news not only for our pocketbook, but for our

Third, to avoid a crisis due to flat or falling property tax
revenues over the next few years, the Douglas County Libraries
initiated a hiring freeze, with the goal of reducing positions by
attrition. Our goal is to save half a million dollars by the end of
2009. From January through April, we reduced our payroll by almost
seven full time jobs, for a savings of nearly $240,000 per

When one of our branch managers retired (Patt Paul of Parker),
we moved another manager (Lone Tree’s Sharon Nemechek) to replace
her. Sharon will be tasked with remaking the internal space of the
library to improve its performance, something she knows a lot
about. Meanwhile, we realigned some staff responsibilities, asking
several of the remaining managers to double up: putting the
Neighborhood Library at Roxborough under Dorothy Hargrove (the
manager of the Highlands Ranch Library); Louviers under Sheila
Kerber (the manager of the Philip S. Miller Library in Castle
Rock); and moving Peg Hooper (manager of these former “satellite”
libraries) to the Neighborhood Library at Lone Tree, where she will
also administer a new service location (see below).

I know that many other businesses are doing the same kind of
trimming and reorganization. But the library is making these cuts
even as our business is increasing by double digits.

Fourth, I’m pleased to report that the library Board of Trustees
recently signed a three-year lease to open a small
(2,500-square-foot) storefront library in the Village Square at
Castle Pines this fall. This new service location is made possible
by the truly extraordinary support of the Castle Pines community.
Significant donations by the property owner, as well as independent
fundraising by the community at large, will help this new library
actually cost us less than we now spend on our aging bookmobile.
We’ll retire the bookmobile when the new library opens. The new
library will be staffed by existing employees.

So not only will we save money, but we’ll also offer more
materials to the 10,000 residents of the area, and provide
children’s storytimes to a community that has long been eager for

What happens at the end of three years? That, of course, will
depend on the finances of the district at that time, and that’s an
issue that will affect not only Castle Pines.

But in the meantime, I hope the residents of Douglas County can
see that we remain thoughtful stewards of public money.

For more information on donations to the Castle Pines Library,
please contact Margie Woodruff,,
or call 303-688-7638.

Jamie LaRue is director of Douglas County Libraries. LaRue’s
Views are his alone.