In order to provide residents with maximum access to resources and services while constrained by Erie County's declining financial support, the B&ECPL must objectively evaluate all facilities within its System. In recent months, the B&ECPL embarked upon the most comprehensive survey to date of its outlets located throughout Erie County. Each facility was visited and a wealth of factual information was obtained. Building issues, such as foundation, mechanical, structural and grounds conditions, were examined as well as ADA compliance, transportation routes, available public space, parking and a host of other factors.
Using the information collected through the facilities study as well as additional statistics, 19 separate criteria, covering geographic, facility, need based and activity indicators, were developed in order to compare B&ECPL locations. Each library was given a score from zero to five for each criteria.
The 19 criteria were each assigned weights based on their relative importance. Finally, a total weighted score was calculated for every library with the maximum possible score being 525.
(This PDF document also includes the breakout of how each library scored on the individual 19 criteria, 2005 operating budget figures and the amount to be cut for each library's 2005 fourth quarter expenses.)
Libraries falling below or near the 300 score threshold were plotted on a map. It became clear almost immediately that there were geographic gaps in the service network. In a few areas, libraries of limited capacity happened to be clustered together. To close all of them would leave substantial areas without access to library service.
At the B&ECPL Board of Trustees Planning Committee's request, revisions were made. Some libraries identified for potential closing were recommended for restoration; others were reconsidered for closing. Many patrons and public officials expressed concern that large areas of rural Erie County , where a single small library serves an entire 40-square-mile municipality, deserve to retain some semblance of service -- even if the County Library System cannot provide the level of financial support it has in years past. Over recent weeks, numerous representatives of County, City, Town and Village governments and trustees of individual libraries requested meetings with B&ECPL trustees and staff to discuss their individual circumstances and to consider creative and collaborative alternatives. Some have committed additional local funds providing the System can supply enough revenue to give them a fighting chance to keep their library open. Modest concessions to some contract libraries might enable them to remain open if local dollars are identified to offset System losses.