Branch Libraries – Pros and Cons


  • Neighborliness
  • Short drives from SOME people’s homes
  • Free parking
  • Drive through pick up and drop off possible

The pros are pretty self explanatory. I will develop more later if I get a chance. However, I think the CONS so dramatically outweigh the branches that a branch library should not be considered at all.

Please also see the post on BOOKMOBILES AS BRANCH LIBRARIES.



The director herself has said in the past that BRANCH LIBRARIES WERE TOO EXPENSIVE even though she declined to say so before the Board presumably because she is committed to this being the Board’s decision without her point of view weighing in on your decision making. I don’t have that limitation. I can say forthrightly that BRANCH LIBRARIES ARE TOO EXPENSIVE. Furthermore, the construction of a new branch library would TAKE AWAY MONEY FOR IMPROVEMENTS DESPERATELY NEEDED FOR THE MAIN LIBRARY BUILDING. 

A  branch would take NEEDED funding away from any remodeling for the 1995 — far too out of date and compromised by budget cuts in the first place — main library.

A branch library would steal budget for operating hours of the main building.

A branch library would divert additional librarians from offering additional coverage at the very very busy main library,

A branch library would FORCE DUPLICATION OF COLLECTION items, diminishing the possible acquisition of new unique materials for the collection.

A branch library would require an additional layer of complexity for tracking materials to include not just shelving information, but “home location” of the material. This may require ADDITIONAL EXPENSIVE SOFTWARE REPROGRAMMING to sort materials between the main and the branch.

A branch library would require implementation of a local “intra library loan” system because people will want to get reserves and drop off books at the branch whether the books are located at the branch or the main building.

A branch library would require a secondary EXPENSIVE AUTOMATED MATERIALS HANDING SYSTEM to manage check-outs and check-ins.

A branch library would force DUPLICATION OF PROGRAMMING offered at the main branch, such as children’s programming, and probably independent events would be held there as well. This might create some conflicts of programming resources and confusion of users about whether an event is at the main library or the branch.

A branch library has OVERHEAD that costs just like the main library overhead, whether or not people are using the facility. Obviously, people would want the BRANCH TO OPEN THE SAME HOURS AS THE MAIN LIBRARY. This would require SUBSTANTIAL STAFFING COSTS.


A branch library is redundant. In hard times, when budgets are tight, BRANCHES ARE CLOSED. The cost of a branch library is likely to be in the $12 MILLION DOLLAR range. In a time of great uncertainty like today, with the federal government is CUTTING THE entire Institute of Museum and library Services (IMLS) — the major source of state grants for libraries — dare we risk spending MILLIONS OF DOLLARS on a building only to have to shutter it before it is completed? Hard choices sometimes must be made between closures and hours. With only one branch, it seems unlikely that simply cutting hours would be cost effective considering all the operational costs would remain the same. Here is a quote from a Library Journal article about this problem:


How would a branch location be decided? Probably by the cost of land. That LAND COST would be over and above the cost of building the branch itself. With the current building boom, any branch library location would be competing against many other projects coming down the road.

Most of the point of having a branch library is for it to be WITHIN NEIGHBORHOODS. However, the way our city has developed with 4 distinct quadrants, which neighborhood gets the benefit? This is the neighborliness factor.

The cost of a library branch that would only serve 1/4 of the city population, seems wasteful to me. At least the main branch, being downtown, is centrally located.








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