Public Libraries

Ministers highlight role of public libraries in strengthening information

Karim Boughida writes \"At a recent conference in Portugal, ministers and policy makers from 36
European countries agreed on priorities to support the contribution of
public libraries towards developing the information society. The delegates
agreed that local and national funding is required to meet the needs of
citizens and help implement the eEurope 2005 Action Plan. As Europe\'s most
popular public Internet access points, libraries also have a key role to
play in economic and social development, through providing access and
training to those who might not otherwise have access.
Full Story


Libraries under attack

"Are public libraries stealing the livelihoods of Japanese authors? So say writers and publishers as the number of books borrowed climbs while sales of books and magazines steadily decline."

"The first salvo in this battle was fired by Bungei Shunju in December 2000, with an article that branded libraries as free rental shops. In June the next year, the Japan Pen Club issued a statement critical of libraries, and last year an authors' association petitioned the Japanese government to establish a European-style public-lending-right system, under which authors would be paid from a national fund for lost royalties from library lending." (from The Japan Times)

Juggling the books

"Nothing in the state’s budget crunch has been hit as hard, proportionally, as Arkansas’ public libraries."

"The state’s budget has dropped $363 million in the past three years of economic slowdown. The loss crimps every state program. It has meant 10 percent cuts for most, including education, health care and law enforcement."

"But state aid to libraries is down nearly 90 percent." (from NWA News)

Minneapolis librarians sue over Internet porn

The Strib reports on the latest development in the Minneapolis saga. I suggest that the staff members are really suing over library management issues, but who'd want to read a story with a headline like that?

Internet Public Library Facing Money Crunch

"The Internet Public Library, which began as a University of Michigan (UM) School of Information project in 1995 yet now has a global audience, is facing a money crunch. Its private and foundation funding has run out, and it currently survives on a base budget of more than $150,000 from UM. "The question of how to fund public goods on the Internet is a very difficult one," said Maurita Holland, associate professor and assistant to the dean and director of academic outreach at the school."

"The IPL--the first Google result when you search on "public library"--gets 12 million hits a month, one quarter from outside the United States and one-half of them from students working on reports. It gets about 1000 e-mail reference questions a month and answers about 80 percent of them. It contains an annotated directory of about 40,000 web sites, plus 22,000 e-texts. It relies on student labor as well as several hundred volunteers." (from Library Journal)

Libraries mobilize patrons to battle state budget cuts

"The stereotypical librarian's pose may be the forefinger pressed to the lips accompanied by a "shhhh." But not when it comes to the state budget."

"Librarians across the region are encouraging patrons to speak up loudly and clearly in opposition to the budget recently passed by the Legislature, which cuts state aid to public libraries by 50 percent."

"On Thursday, Gov. Ed Rendell signed the budget and used a line-item veto to slash education funding, a move intended to force legislators to reconsider that funding. The budget doesn't go into effect until July 1, and library officials are speaking out." (from The Post-Gazette)

Free inter-library loans in jeopardy

Genie sent this one over:

"Just when people may most need library services, the end may be near for the traditional practice of free inter-library loans and checkouts to borrowers from other library districts, such as between Atherton residents, who are served by the county library system, and Menlo Park residents, who use a city library."

"A proposal by Gov. Gray Davis would eliminate $12.1 million in state funds that subsidize the costs for these kinds of exchanges. To replace the state subsidy, the governor's proposal suggests that libraries charge out-of-district borrowers $1 for each check-out of materials and $5 for each inter-library loan, in which the requested material is transported by van to the borrower's library." (from The Alamana)

Monroe Library goes wireless

"The Sno-Isle Regional Library System's Monroe branch just got hipper."

"Not only was it built last year in a postmodern fashion to attract more students to learning, the library is using remaining bond funds to jump ahead of other branches — this time with four new wireless and keyboardless computers."

"For 14-year-old Leslie Lance, the ViewPad 1000 by ViewSonic means freedom. No longer is Lance stuck sitting at a computer table, staring down at a keyboard and screen. Instead, she can tuck the notebook-size screen under her arm, walk through the stacks to grab a book, then relax in one of the library's comfortable chairs with the computer on her lap." (from The Seattle Times)

Razed and Abandoned

larry schwartz writes "Razed and Abandoned: Say, about that library we promised you...

In November 2000, the people of Minneapolis voted by a 2-to-1 margin to approve $140 million for the construction of a new downtown library and the renovation of community libraries around the city. Today, $9 million and a very large hole in the ground later, city leaders find themselves debating whether to postpone or scale back their downtown project, and close or reduce library service in the neighborhoods. "

Full Story.

A Look Around Minneapolis

James Nimmo and Bob Cox sent in a bunch of stories from the Minneapolis area.

Shortfall may close 4 Minneapolis libraries says closing four Minneapolis branch libraries for at least the rest of the year could win as the city's Library Board seeks to shave $2 million from the 2003 budget, but, Library declines staff recommendation to close four branches says The Minneapolis Library Board's Finance Committee rejected a plan Wednesday night to shutter four community libraries, opting instead for a mix of one-time cuts.

Who gets the blame for the library fiasco? wants to know how they got so far along before people started adding up the numbers on building a new library. They've already wrecked the old library, and just now noticed the new one would be expensive.
They say the politics are complex. The City Council has little faith in the Library Board's ability to deal with serious fiscal matters. The Library Board suspects that the City Council wants to usurp its political power. The mayor says that he just wants everyone to get along and that he wants the library "because it's our great civic project." But in the next breath he says that the city "has to look at everything" when it comes to budget cutting. Speedy Minneapolis library decision sought.


Subscribe to Public Libraries