NJ Librarians Are Mad as Hell And They're Not Going to Take It Anymore

WAYNE NJ — Hundreds gathered at the State House Annex in Trenton recently to oppose Gov. Chris Christie's proposal to cut 74 percent of funding for the state library system, an action many believe will be nothing less than devastating.

Library patrons from across New Jersey voiced their concerns over the proposed cuts via 60,000 orange postcards hand delivered the day of the rally including 5,000 from the Wayne Public Library and its Preakness branch. Employees from the Valley Road location joined forces with over 650 people who filled the annex courtyard to help spread the message that "libraries matter."

"I feel we needed to do our part because these cuts being proposed would be disastrous," said Doreen Shoba, head of the reference department at the Wayne Public Library.

Included in the cuts would be the elimination of all statewide library programs and services. New Jersey stands to lose roughly $4.5 million in federal funding leaving clientele severely impacted. Amongst the biggest losses will be access to electronic databases such as RefUSA and EBSCO, as well as the statewide interlibrary loan and delivery service. Many libraries including Wayne could also lose access to the Internet as well.


I am aware of at least one New Jersey library system that intentionally turns down free money every year because it refuses to be CIPA complaint.



"Included in the cuts would be the elimination of all statewide library programs and services."

Okay, so yeah, if this "one NJ library system" does get filters, what good would it do when access to most STATE-FUNDED databases are inaccessible because there is no money in the STATE budget for that? STATE library budgets do not have anything to do with LOCAL library budgets in regards to filtering software. Yes, E-Rate can save a library some money, but let's ignore filtering and look at the bigger picture...

When you cut 74 percent of state funding, there goes most of the funding to many smaller libraries that are dependent on that state funding as a good portion of their budget. And taking out all statewide ILL services? That's an even more crushing blow to smaller libraries. Take away the money many of these libraries use to buy books and combine that with the inability to ILL the book from another library. And then state-funded databases are obliterated as well. All that's left is patrons who can't get access to the books they want or the information they need. 74 percent is absolutely appalling.

It boils down to what is the bigger issue--a loss of most services libraries provide and many libraries being forced to shut down vs. a filtered internet and compliance with CIPA that only saves the library a fraction of what it is losing in state funds and state-funded services. See, the services such as databases and ILL are essential, even though they are not factored into local budgets. So, filtering the internet and complying with CIPA to get the E-Rate does not even begin to solve the STATE budget problems.

For the sake of argument, I agree with you.

On another topic but related, I am a NJ resident. NJ has been spending money and raising taxes like wild for a very long time, with both political parties at fault. There has to come a time when that trend stops. When it does, the pain must be spread around, so to speak. In NJ, the pain is starting to spread around. Please tell us why libraries should be exempt from everything else in NJ that is now experiencing pain.

I spoke yesterday to a business owner who is hanging on by the skin of his/her teeth. Should we raise taxes on him to pay for the status quo in NJ? If we do, he goes out of business or he moves his business out-of-state. The money train has ended in NJ and our government is finally attempting to control spending. It really is sad to see library funds being cut, but so many other things are being cut too. It's hard to know what to be sadder for.


I'm not saying that libraries should be exempt from any cuts. I was just commenting how sad it is and how much of a loss it is. 74 percent is a staggering amount. I'm not familiar enough with what cuts are being made other state departments, so I don't have a comparison to say if this is in line with other NJ budgetary decisions being made. I was thinking in perspective of the services the linked article mentioned being dropped as well as what would happen in my own state if we were faced with this huge cut. It is just truly sad.

The figure for budget cuts in other departments is more like 30%. What has been restored ( as of June 22) are services to the low-income and elderly. Who do you think libraries primarily serve? The elderly and low-income. People who have computers and Internet access at home do not use library computers unless their computers are broken or their printers are not working. Libraries are among the last place basic services should be cut.

First, there is no such thing as "free money". It comes from federal taxpayers and it comes with strings attached (most notably, the CIPA requirements). Whether a library wants to take the money with the requirements is up to the library. While they are "missing out" on this funding, they are also "missing out" with having to remain compliant with the CIPA act. It's a calculated cost/benefit analysis for their community, and they can spend their money (and filter or not filter their computers) as they please.

Second, the Governor's budget proposal eliminates state funding many basic state-wide library services. It eliminates funding for group contracts that purchase internet access for libraries all over the state. In removing this budget line, the federal matching funds also evaporate. Libraries would be on their own to purchase internet access. (Which, as a point of information, also means they don't have to maintain CIPA compliance. Without federal funds in the picture, libraries around the state would have to decide whether to continue with filters, making their own cost/benefit analysis. I'm not saying they would or should drop filtering, but they are no longer compelled by CIPA to maintain it.)

The Governor's proposed budget also eliminates state funding (and, like internet access, federal matching funds) for databases. These are services used not only by public libraries, but by the state colleges and universities as well. The State Library negotiates contracts for the most commonly used databases in New Jersey, resulting in a savings of 75-100 million dollars a year (about 7-10 times the cut in funding, interestingly enough). This makes no sense as the program is already fiscally responsible, efficient, and makes use of shared services (something the Governor wants in agencies).

Also eliminated from the budget is the aforementioned intra-state interlibrary loan services. This affects all of the public libraries and the state colleges and universities. The other commenter touched upon that and I agree with his/her reasons.

Third, as a New Jersey librarian, I am hoping that the cuts to statewide library funding would be brought down to be more in line with cuts to other agencies. No other agency is being cut as deeply as libraries at 74%. A 5-15% cut is manageable while maintaining important services like intrastate interlibrary loan, internet access, and databases. 74% is more of a decapitation; there is nothing that can be maintained.

What librarians really want is our cut to be in line with the other cuts being presented. It is not a fair share of the cuts being proposed. And it's going to cause many libraries to either reduce hours, cut services, lay off staff, or close. And it has been happening already. I have seen stories come across my screen every week and stories told to me in person of the same. It's very disheartening.

[SafeLibraries, if you really want to make an issue regarding CIPA in NJ libraries, I highly suggest you write to the Governor asking him to restore funding for internet access to libraries. Without the federal funding and the CIPA strings attached, there will be over 400 libraries that will be buying their own internet and then making decisions about filtering. That one letter to the Governor is a bargain compared to the 400+ letters you might be writing to directors, freeholders, mayors, and library boards urging them to maintain CIPA level filtering.]

More information is at http://savemynjlibrary.org

Great answer. I do support libraries, including NJ libraries, so I will consider what you said.

Thought out of nowhere: George Soros gave a huge amount of money to the ALA. Perhaps he could be enticed to do something similar in NJ. Similarly, the ACLU makes a huge amount of money from law suits. Perhaps the ACLU might find NJ worthy of a gift that would promote American civil liberties.


"Thought out of nowhere" Indeed.

>Similarly, the ACLU makes a huge amount of money from law suits.

Can you cite anything to back this up?

I am serious. The response of "Are you serious?" is Safelibrary code for "I just made that up so of course I cannot back it up."

Bill O'Reilly says that the ACLU gets money from foundations not lawsuits. Safelibraries you been owned by O'Reilly.

When presenting anything as fact, you do need to have verifiable sources. You are on a website frequented by librarians. We do research for a living. Impress us with some proof of your claims.

You're slandering an important organization, one that's fought for the free-speech rights of left, right, whatever. ACLU has many paying members. Without some solid evidence that ACLU "profits" from lawsuits, this is misleading nonsense.

Yes, I can back it up.

See, for example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Civil_Liberties_Union#Court_awarded_damages_and_attorn... reprinted below, footnotes omitted:

Court Awarded Damages and Attorney's Fees

In 2004, court-awarded damages and attorney fees composed a 3% (net) of ACLU Foundation funding; state affiliates also receive money from such fees, although the national headquarters does not.[citation needed]

Recovery of attorney's' fees by non-profit legal advocacy organizations is common practice. The pro-life Thomas More Law Center, for example, generally seeks, and is successful in, recovery of attorney's fees in the same manner as the ACLU.[28][29] In 2005, the Thomas More law center derived 4.8% of its funding from court-awarded legal fees in this manner.[30]

Due to the nature of its legal work, the ACLU is often involved in litigation against governmental bodies, which are generally protected from adverse monetary judgments: a town, state or federal agency may be required to change its laws or behave differently, but not to pay monetary damages except by an explicit statutory waiver.[31][32]

In some cases, the law permits plaintiffs who successfully sue government agencies to collect money damages or other monetary relief. In particular, the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Award Act of 1976 leaves the government liable in some civil rights cases. Fee awards under this civil rights statute are considered "equitable relief" rather than damages, and government entities are not immune from equitable relief.[33] Under laws such as this, the ACLU and its state affiliates sometimes share in monetary judgments against government agencies.[34]

The ACLU has received court awarded fees in numerous church-state cases. The Georgia affiliate was awarded $150,000 in fees after suing a county demanding the removal of a Ten Commandments display from its courthouse;[35] a second Ten Commandments case in the State, in a different county, led to a $74,462 judgment.[36] Meanwhile, the State of Tennessee was required to pay $50,000, the State of Alabama $175,000, and the State of Kentucky $121,500, in similar Ten Commandments cases.[37][38] The Public Expression of Religion Act of 2005, introduced by Representative John Hostettler, sought to alter the rules put in place by the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Award Act of 1976 to prevent monetary judgments in the particular case of violations of church-state separation.[39] Also, groups such as the American Legion have taken stances opposing the ACLU's right to collect fees under such legislation.[40]


Attorney fees are cost recovery. This is not the ACLU earning a profit on lawsuits.

The worst response is to try to get the staff to make up for the budget and staff cuts by working harder, so the public will not be discommoded. Services should be cut first; they will be the first ones to be restored.

Secondly, each library should post a sign saying the hours cut and services cut are required due to budget cuts. Many people are disconnected between service and budgets- very many apparently have no idea that libraries are funded with taxes. Libraries just "are." Unless the public sees that tax cuts mean cuts in service, this disconnect will continue.

NJ Librarian Sings:
We're Not Gonna Take It

When is this mass library ambush of Christie's taking place - when are the cuts happening? When will ILL no longer be available and what else can we do to stop it?!

There does come a time, when jurisdictions have to answer for reckless compensation. Look @ some of the SJ libraries: manager salaries from $60-over 100K, on less than an eight-hour day. That is obscene, when the average upper-level librarian sits in an office most of the day. High pay is fine, if other staff has the opportunity as well. Who produces the manager's accomplishments--answer: in many cases the underpaid staff.

And what about the benefits--how many workplaces offer you comprehensive benefits when you work in effect a part-time job? Vacation and personal days + sick leave + holidays + inclement weather days add up. Can an unemployed or underemployed population afford to pay property taxes, to fund these "soft" jobs?

If more people were paid a living wage, not just the chosen few then public funding would not be an issue. But, somebody has to pay for the lower-income members of a community.

The governor may be tired of seeing all the cushy jobs, in library land.

From a library director: What makes you think the library managers work less than an eight-hour day? Why do you think library work is "in effect a part-time job"? What makes you think working in an office is not work? In what organization do managers not have an office to work in? As a library director for nine years, I know my own experience and that of my colleagues, and I frequently put in more than 40 hours a week, sometimes much more - in addition to attending evening meetings on top of 10 hour days, and doing professional reading on my own time without ever being paid overtime. This is in contrast to my staff, who are union, rarely work more than 40 hours per week, and receive time and 1/2 in comp time or overtime pay when they do. Managers and directors manage staff, manage budgets, manage collections, do fund-raising and marketing, and do political networking - and have extensive training to do those activities. I don't have experience with New Jersey libraries, but I can't imagine they are much different from Wisconsin libraries.

I'm sorry but I just spent 4 yrs studying management and let me reasure you 60k is nothing for spending SO many hours studying a multitude of subjects on your "off" time. Then there is the smoozing you have to do because you are the manager, with politicical, banker, staff, volenteer, and so many other types of people on a constant basis. Often the manager is the one called in on the holiday or in the middle of night crisis. So much more goes into being the "upper-level librarian" who "sits in an office most of the day". These people do a ton of work no matter what management position they are in.

You wanna cry about allocation of funds for public servants fine try your gov officials the median wage is around 140k yrly.

Some "tenured" teachers are making over a 100k yrly in public schools in IL, and then there are a host of teachers who are not allowed to work in districts but the district is not allowed to fire them so these teachers spend days collecting pay playing cards reading etc. instead of working on our tax dime.

Correctly allocating $ must be done with some consideration, but don't blast the people who DO work, but those who don't and still get your cash.

Truly LNSu

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