Have you ever wondered how your local public library is funded? A public library is a library that, by definition, is accessible by the general public and is usually funded from public sources, such as taxes. But a public library’s “public funding” varies from library to library on how those dollars are allocated, sourced, and more.
It’s easy to make the mistake of believing that taxpayer dollars pay for everything at the library—from books and computers to staff and programming. While this may be the case at some public libraries, that is not the case at the Natrona County Library. We rely heavily on outside sources beyond the County & City to help us bring our high level of service to our patrons.
To better understand how we do what we do with our budget, here’s a breakdown of our various funding sources and their specific limitations that determine how those funds are ultimately spent.
- Annual operating budget – This comes from the County. Over 90% of this goes to weighted salary expenses, and the balance goes to pay contracted services, utilities, fuel, etc.
- County Facilities – This is money that never comes into our actual budget but is set aside at the County level to address issues with our building. This money CANNOT be used for anything other than facility improvements/repairs. A few examples include resurfacing the parking lot, new water fountains, asbestos abatement, and carpet replacement.
- County 1% – These requests must be preidentified before awarded. We rely on County 1% to purchase ALL circulating materials – physical and digital. We also use this for technology and equipment. This amount can vary from year to year, and it is not guaranteed or promised.
- City 1% – The City’s 1% contribution is very small, but important. We’ve used it to purchase ½ of our new bookmobile and to supplement our collection budget. We can also request these funds for special projects or initiatives. Like the County 1%, this funding varies from year to year and is neither guaranteed nor promised.
- Foundation, Friends & Grants – We rely on these sources to fund our programming, Creation Station supplies, most of our marketing, staff appreciation, and all the extras that make our library so special.
We invite you to keep these things in mind the next time you attend one of our free public programs or check out an item from our collection. While, yes, your tax contributions do help us keep the Library running, it may not be paying for everything you think.
Learn more about our policies at www.natronacountylibrary.org/policy/.