The Houston Public Library is using money not spent on wages these past two years on two new furnaces.
In a budget presentation to the District of Houston council Feb. 15, library director Sara Lewis said two COVID-caused circumstances left the library significantly under its 2020 and 2021 wages budget.
The first of those circumstances was a three-month closure and the second was not needing to backfill a position brought on by a maternity leave because of reduced operating times.
“In August 2021 the [library] board voted to put that money into the building and purchase two new furnaces with air conditioning,” Lewis wrote in her presentation.
She said one of the two current furnaces is close to 30 years old and the other is more than 20 years old.
“We were told last time they were serviced that they are reaching the end of their lifespan. Emberson Plumbing and Heating has ordered the equipment and should be installing sometime this month,” Lewis added.
This year the library is asking the District of Houston for $122,000.
In other library activity for 2021:
– 19,308 items were borrowed
– 1,506 items were added. The library has a collection of more than 24,000 items.
– There were 64 new memberships and 206 membership renewals
– The library also offers computers for the public and there were 2,153 uses.
As a member of several regional and provincial bodies, the library sends out items requested by people elsewhere and not available at their home libraries and has items sent to Houston that aren’t available here.
In that regard, 1,154 items were sent out via inter-library loan and 1,242 items were borrowed here via inter-library loan.
Librarians also answered 1,240 reference questions.
Although the pandemic has restricted library programs it did adapt to a focus on take-home activities with 310 summer reading club craft kits distributed and 282 take home adult and children craft kits handed out.
There were, however, 38 in-person programs attended by 350 people.
And with the future of ongoing pandemic measures not fully known, several challenges were laid ot, focusing on attendance limits for programs and events.
A 2022 wish list includes home delivery for seniors and people with disabilities, money for courtyard rehabilitation, having evening hours, an in-person summer reading club, replacing older computers and having self-checkout for items.
The $122,000 request to council has yet to be approved and that will happen when the two parties sign a fees for services arrangement.