Big Challenges, Bigger Opportunities


If you’ve visited a KDL branch lately, then you probably know that the library is busier than ever. In 2008, nearly 6 million items were checked out, 160,000 people attended library programs, and over 3.4 million people visited our branches. To help accommodate this growth, some of our municipalities have even initiated new building projects.

However, one unfortunate trend is that as library use continues to grow, property tax revenue has not. Taxable value, while once growing at 5% or more annually, has now flattened to a near no-growth position. Other impacts on KDL revenue, including tax tribunal judgments, tax captures, and shrinking revenues for state aid and penal fines, have also significantly reduced library funding.

In order to maintain the high level of library service our customers have come to expect, it is our goal to proactively manage these financial challenges while staying mindful of the long-term implications. By leveraging technology, streamlining processes, reducing and reallocating library staff positions, sharing organizational resources, and aggressively pursuing ways to generate revenue outside of our traditional funding base, we plan to meet that goal.

We are working hard to make the most of your tax dollars as we move forward. However, we encourage you to show your support during these difficult times in a number of ways, including advocacy, constructive feedback, and consideration of a donation to the KDL Fund. We sincerely appreciate all that our community has helped us to achieve and look forward to a bright future together.

Thank you!


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Written by Eric


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3 Responses to “Big Challenges, Bigger Opportunities”

  1. Steve Says:

    One way you could maintain your high level of service, would be to let those that don’t live in Kent County have access to everything that is available on your website. I live just inside Ottawa county but am in the Grandville School District (and have a Grand Rapids mailing address). My library card allows me to check out books from KDL but that’s it. I can’t use the eLibrary or the online Resources (basically, all the extras that you’re putting money into). If you would like my support, than how about supporting me a little bit. Allow me to have access to your online extras.


    PS My wife also donates her time and efforts at the KDL branches by being part of the Ruff Readers program.

  2. Patricia Angell Says:

    I agree with Steve. I live in Kent County so I have access to the online services, however I think it is unfair to those who support the system locked out of services allowed those inside Kent County. I think a small yearly fee for the online services would be acceptable and would add funds to keep services up to date.

  3. Dave Says:

    One of the problems with the great library service we have in West Michigan is generally we don’t understand how libraries are funded. Our librarians have worked hard for many years to make the transition between library systems/districts transparent to us users. It’s not like this in the rest of the state. We’ve got it really nice.

    Steve, if you want the extra services that KDL pays a LOT of extra money for (from property taxes), move to the KDL service area, and pay taxes for those services. Not everyone in Kent County has access to our phenomenal library services. If you live in the City of GR or some townships in northern Kent County, you don’t pay taxes to KDL, so don’t have access to the same downloadable books or databases.

    Or better yet, petition your own library, to whom you do pay taxes to buy these services. Remember, they are expensive.

    It’s not a matter of fairness: there are many libraries in Ottawa County who won’t let us borrow some of their materials (but they borrow ours) because we don’t pay taxes to them. Now THAT’s not fair.

    KDL offers great services and programs to many people, regardless of where you live. But as KDL taxpayers and supporters, we’re glad that they keep the really great stuff for us.