Denver Deserves a Strong Library
A strong library provides
Storytime for families with young children
Social connections for seniors
Safe study spaces for students
Technology access to close the digital divide
Social services support for our unhoused neighbors and those seeking food assistance and health services
Employment services for job seekers
Language acquisition classes and citizenship preparation for new Americans
Maker spaces for innovators
Recording studios for podcasters and musicians
Book clubs for people of all ages
Award winning Denver author Adrian Miller
Through a modest property tax increase, which will cost the typical homeowner in Denver just $4.19 per month, we can ensure that the Denver Library has the resources it needs to:
Increase pay for librarians and other staff currently making below-market wages
Expand access to technology to help close the digital divide
Enhance programs and services for children, youth, older adults, communities of color and new Americans
Connect job seekers and employers
Extend library hours to stay open nights and weekends to better serve working people and students
Expand & Diversify
Expand and diversify collections of books and media to reduce wait times and ensure better cultural representation
Learn More About DPL
Since 1889, the Denver Public Library (DPL) has been a cornerstone of the Denver community, playing an integral role in supporting the City’s priorities. The library has 27 – soon to be 29 – locations in neighborhoods throughout the City, provides programs and services to every demographic, and is Denver’s most visited cultural institution with over 4 million in-person visits in 2019.
DPL recently completed a strategic planning process to establish a bold plan for how to best support Denver’s dynamic community. Equity is a key part of the library’s core values. As one of the few places in the city where all people, from all backgrounds and life circumstances are welcome to come free of charge, the library is a vital community resource and an important part of how we can create and grow opportunity for all Denver residents.
However, DPL does not have the financial resources to fully realize this vision. As compared to other libraries in Colorado and across the country, DPL is underfunded.
This November, Denver voters will have the chance to change that.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the DPL and what does its service to the people of Denver look like today?
Since 1889, the Denver Public Library (DPL) has been a cornerstone of the Denver community, playing an integral role in supporting the City’s priorities. While DPL maintains extensive collections of books and media, the library also provides its patrons with access to technology, tools, music, art, programming and services and serves as a safe space and gathering place. The modern library is a community hub that nurtures vibrant neighborhoods and a thriving city.
DPL has 27 locations – soon to be 29 – distributed in neighborhoods throughout the City, provides programs and services to every demographic group of residents, and is Denver’s most visited cultural institution with 4 million in-person visits in 2019. As one of the few places in the city where all people, from all backgrounds and life circumstances are welcome to come free of charge, the library is a vital community resource and an important part of how we can create and grow opportunity for all Denver residents.
Why is new and dedicated funding for the Library needed?
DPL recently completed a strategic planning process to refresh its vision and mission and establish a bold plan for how to best support Denver’s dynamic community. Equity is an important and necessary part of the agenda for the City and County of Denver and it is a key part of the library’s core values. However, DPL does not have the financial resources needed to fully realize this vision. As compared to other libraries in Colorado and across the country, DPL is underfunded.
With dedicated public funding, DPL can expand hours of service to ensure access at night and on weekends, enhance programs and services for specific communities including children, older adults, immigrants and refugees and job seekers, ensure access to technology, expand collections of linguistically and culturally diverse materials, reduce wait times for materials, increase wages for staff and address a long list of deferred maintenance and capital improvements that are needed. A strong community requires a strong library. The Denver Public Library is an asset that demands our attention and deserves our support.
How will the new money be used?
New revenue will be used to invest in our community, our people and our spaces and collections, including:
- Increasing pay for librarians and staff making below-market wages
- Ensuring the library has the necessary technology to support patrons who lack internet access
- Enhancing programs and services for children, youth, older adults, communities of color, and vulnerable groups like immigrants and refugees
- Expanding resources for those in the job market and helping connect people to potential employers in the community
- Returning library branches from reduced hours to normal schedules and allowing libraries to be open on nights and weekends
- Expanding and diversifying the collection of books, media, and other popular items to reduce wait times and ensure more appropriate linguistic and cultural representation
How much is the tax? And who pays it?
This is a 1.5 mill property tax increase that is estimated to generate about $32 million per year for the Library. The amount paid will depend on the assessed value of the property. It is important to note that the assessed value is determined by the City Assessor’s Office every two years – it is NOT the market value of the property.
The property tax rates for residential and commercial properties vary.
– Residential: $0.89 / month for every $100,000 of assessed actual value
– Commercial: $3.63 / month for every $100,000 of assessed actual value
You can figure out about how much would be owed for your home using this form.
Why a property tax?
We considered both property and sales tax options and determined a property tax proposal is preferable because:
- Property tax revenue is more stable and reliable than sales tax revenue, which follows the ups and downs of the economy.
- Denver’s property tax rate is lower than most other cities in the metro-area and peer cities across the country. In contrast, Denver’s sales tax rate has been increased quite a bit recently as Denver voters have approved a number of dedicated sales tax increases.
- Property taxes are less regressive than sales taxes.
How will this help vulnerable communities and neighborhoods in Denver?
Advancing equity is an important and necessary part of the agenda for the City and County of Denver and is a key part of the Denver Public Library’s core values, as reflected in its community-driven strategic plan. However, DPL does not have the financial resources needed to fully realize the bold vision established in that strategic plan. New revenue will be dedicated to funding priorities such as:
- Increasing hours and services at branch locations to ensure we are meeting the needs of those residents, such as students and working adults, who may not be able to access their library during typical business hours
- Supporting our digital inclusion and community outreach services and replacing laptops and desktops for customer use to mitigate the impacts of the digital divide in our communities
- Expanding and diversifying our collections to reduce wait times and ensure greater linguistic, cultural, racial and ethnic representation
- Addressing deferred maintenance, which will include projects to ensure ADA compliance
- Increasing wages for DPL staff, many of whom live in the neighborhoods where they work
Given the uncertain economic environment, cost of living burdens residents are facing today and the possibility of a recession on the horizon, is now the right time?
Libraries are needed most during tough times. COVID highlighted the devastating impacts of the digital divide and the related challenges facing vulnerable populations including students, seniors and job seekers. These same groups are facing adversity today as they deal with the on-going impacts of COVID and navigate inflation and the high cost of living in Denver. The Library offers programs and services that help the most vulnerable in the community to thrive. For example:
- DPL offers a variety of ‘Job Help’ classes, often in partnership with Denver Workforce Centers, to connect job seekers with potential employers
- DPL’s Community Technology Center offers classes to help people improve their tech literacy and the library provides hardware and software technology access to patrons for free
- DPL helps community members find and access benefits and services in a wide range of areas from food and nutrition to health insurance to housing and shelter
- DPL offers a wide range of support services and classes for New Americans, including English language classes and information and support for navigating the legal citizenship process
Denver’s recovery from COVID depends on ensuring this is a City where we can all succeed and libraries are central to the success of many Denver residents.
Does this change the governance of the library? How will DPL employees be impacted by this?
No. This proposal does not change the governance structure of DPL in any way. It only increases funding for the Denver Public Library.
If this proposal passes, DPL will undertake an evaluation of staff compensation, which will likely result in increased wages for many of librarians and other staff. However, DPL staff will remain employees of the City and County of Denver with the benefits, compensation and classification structure currently in place.
How much will this cost a homeowner?
To figure out the estimated amount you would pay monthly, look up your home and enter the actual value for your home into the form below and it will tell you your estimated monthly cost.