Miami-Dade County Public Libraries have a big financial hole to fill. In order to stave off closing branches and laying off dozens of employees, the Miami-Dade County Commission this year raided the library's reserve fund. That will leave an estimated $20 million deficit in the next fiscal year. In order to generate ideas for the library of the future, library director Raymond Santiago has gathered together a task force with "everything on the table." That means the possibility of higher taxes to support public libraries.
But there may be other options, including creating more commerce at libraries. With fewer brick and mortar bookstores, supporters argue, the public library's role as a convening place in a community is more important than ever. It is a public space, after all. For instance, if book lovers already are using the library to discover books, why not provide the opportunity to allow those book lovers to buy books, especially if all of the library's copies are out on loan? Many libraries already allow users to "borrow" digital copies of books, music and movies.
WLRN's Sunshine Economy spoke with Director Santiago, Monroe County Public Library Director Norma Kula and the founder and CEO of market research firm Bookigee about creating an appealing and financially sustainable public library system.