Two months ago, Denver voters overwhelmingly said “yes” to Referred Question 2i, which will provide an additional $32 million each year in dedicated funding for Denver Public Library. This effort was years in the making and is a big win for the library system and our community.
For context, the Denver Public Library system is the most visited cultural institution in Denver, with four million in-person visits in 2019. Yet, it’s been historically underfunded compared to other libraries locally and among peers (per capita) nationwide. In 2021, the Friends Foundation formed a diverse community task force with 22 people from across Denver to tackle the challenge of finding sustainable funding solutions for the Library. Among other recommendations, the task force unanimously recommended asking voters to approve a new dedicated tax for DPL.
Looking ahead, the passage of 2i does not mean the Library and Foundation no longer need your support. While this initiative helps to correct years of underfunding at the Library, it does not fund every need and opportunity. The Friends Foundation has supplemented the Library’s budget since the Foundation’s inception in 1940, and that funding must continue. Currently, the unfunded needs of the Library include capital projects, assistance in special collections, ongoing advocacy to ensure the city continues its funding of the Library, and more.
Because 2023 is the Library’s first year with this dedicated funding, they are being deliberate and thoughtful in laying a solid foundation for the future. Change won’t happen overnight, but the Library is committed to being good stewards of these funds, and the Friends Foundation is committed to continuing to support the Library through fundraising and advocacy. Stay tuned for updates as the Library moves forward.