Money Issues

Seattle Libraries to Shut Down for a Week

Seattle PI: Seattle's libraries will close for a week beginning late this month, leaving patrons without many normal services while the city continues to ponder how the system will operate on less money next year. It will be the second budget-driven closure in a year.

The system will close Aug. 30 through Sept. 6, including Labor Day, with regular operations to resume Sept. 7. During the closure patrons will be able to download e-books from the system and will have access to databases for encyclopedias, consumer information and investment but won't be able to reserve, pick up or drop off books or talk with librarians. The closure will mean salary reductions for nearly 650 employees who will not be paid during that week.

The library shutdown, part of the city's effort to deal with a $67-million city budget shortfall, was planned for a time when library use is lower than at other times in the year, when school is not in session and fewer programs are scheduled, staffers said.

Mayor Mike McGinn has asked the library and other city agencies to trim budgets to deal with the revenue shortfall. He'll submit a proposed 2011 budget on Sept. 27.

Librarians = Bloat, Claims Goldwater Institute

A new report by a conservative watchdog group concludes the nation's universities have become less efficient over the years by dramatically increasing the number of administrators they hire per student.

"Like any addiction program, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Higher education needs to admit they have a problem of administrative bloat," said Jay Greene, the report's author and head of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas.

The debate over who is considered an administrator in public education is not a new one. Arizona K-12 schools have objected to the way they are evaluated in state audits. Employees fall into one of two categories: "classroom dollars" or "non-classroom dollars." Principals, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and librarians fall into the latter category, even though many parents consider them essential to schools. The Arizona Auditor General's Office has maintained that while classroom dollars shouldn't be the sole measure of evaluating a K-12 school, high spending outside the classroom is a potential sign of inefficient operations.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2010/08/17/20100817collegeadministra...

Hope for Camden's Libraries?

The public libraries in Camden, NJ may not be closing after all. Camden Mayor Dana Redd is announcing a rescue plan that will keep Camden’s public libraries open.

Plans were in the works last week to shut down the three branches of the city library system, because of a $28-million budget gap.

But Redd and freeholder director Louis Cappelli were unveiling a strategy today at a City Hall news conference to keep the libraries open. It’s possible that strategy may include the city becoming part of the Camden County library system.

And from NPR's two-way blog:

On Monday, Redd said a new plan called for the city's library system would join the county's, thereby maintaining library service in the hard-scrabble city across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.

So it seemed a lot more likely Monday than Friday that Camden's residents, many of whom fall below the federal poverty line, will still be able to get access to a library's computers and books.

Somewhere poet Walt Whitman, Camden's most famous man of letters, must be smiling. Ditto for Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin, the creator of one of the nation's earliest lending libraries."

NC Bookstores Helping Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

At a time when the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is suffering from deep county-wide budget cuts, local booksellers are banding together to offer financial support this August.

Three libraries closed indefinitely June 19, and to keep the remaining libraries open, the book-buying budget was reduced by 58 percent since last fiscal year.

That means the average wait time for a new book is six months - sometimes longer.

"We were able to keep the libraries open with the deals made with the municipalities, city and county, but we still had to make cuts elsewhere," said Angela Haigler, communications and marketing director for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

To help out, 18 bookstores in the greater Charlotte area have agreed to hold their own three-day book sales and give a portion of profits to the library's book-buying fund.

"Customers will be asked if they're interested in supporting local libraries, and if they're interested, 10 percent of their purchases for that day will go to the libraries," said Edward Lee, general manager of the Books-A-Million at Concord Mills Mall.

A listing of participating stores and additional information at the Charlotte Observer.

L.A. Public Library Cuts Prompt Demonstration Outside Main

Los Angeles Public Library supporters are gathered outside Central Library today to protest a two-day-a-week closure caused by budget cuts.

The demonstration started at 9:30 a.m. outside the Fifth Street entrance, 630 W. Fifth Street, said Mark Siegel, a city librarian.

Each of the city's 73 libraries will now be closed Sundays and Mondays because of a massive budget shortfall. Library services absorbed a 28% reduction in its workforce.

Siegel said at least seven librarians and 50 support staff have been laid off in the restructuring. He said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council had misplaced priorities in allowing the cuts.

"We just completed a massive rebuilding program, and people aren't able to use their libraries," he said. "We want them to move us up on the list."

Video from ABC news and story from the LA Times and the LA Daily News.

Priorities in Indianapolis: City Finds Millions for NBA Team but Cuts Library Budget

Dozens of readers stretched out with books on blankets and in lawn chairs on the American Legion Mall across the street from the main branch of the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, reading quietly to themselves to protest proposed budget cuts that could reduce hours and close library branches.

"I am here supporting the libraries of Indianapolis and hoping they don't get closed," said Mindy Grayson as she cracked open a weathered copy of the 1931 classic, The Impatient Virgin.

The city's library system is facing a $7 million budget deficit by 2014 as acknowledged by Mayor Greg Ballard Monday. "Over the past few months my administration has engaged the library system to prevent branch closings," Ballard said.

Ballard's comment came as he announced a $33.5 million deal to loan operating funds to the Indiana Pacers to keep the NBA team at Conseco Fieldhouse for the next three years.

Should Drugs and Sex Support Libraries?

That is the question that has been raised by a commenter in Will Manley's blog Will Unwound. The proposal is to legalize marijuana and prostitution and tax them heavily to help finance publically supported libraries. Reactions are invited

U.S. Public Libraries...We Lose Them at Our Peril

LA Times Op-Ed by library aficionado and author Marilyn Johnson:

The U.S. is beginning an interesting experiment in democracy: We're cutting public library funds, shrinking our public and school libraries, and in some places, shutting them altogether.

These actions have nothing to do with whether the libraries are any good or whether the staff provides useful service to the community. This country's largest circulating library, in Queens, N.Y., was named the best system in the U.S. last year by Library Journal. Its budget is due to shrink by a third. Los Angeles libraries are being slashed, and beginning this week, the doors will be locked two days a week and at least 100 jobs cut. And until it got a six-month reprieve June 23, Siskiyou County almost became California's only county without a public library. Such cuts and close calls are happening across the country. We won't miss a third of our librarians and branch libraries the way we'd miss a third of our firefighters and firehouses, the rationale goes … but I wonder.

Pennsylvania's Libraries Faced with Another Round of Budget Cuts

As Gov. Rendell prepares to sign a $28 billion state budget that cuts aid to libraries by 9 percent, or $5.4 million, things are likely to get worse. To Pennsylvania's 624 public libraries - whose state funding was slashed 20 percent last year - the new budget reads like a book with the climactic ending ripped out. In recent years, libraries have coped with repeated rollbacks in funding by reducing hours and staff, charging small fees for borrowing movies and CDs, and scaling back on book-buying and special programs, such as the popular children's story time.

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Pondering Budget Reprogramming

Lenora Oftedahl flagged on the PNLA list a story by Fox Chicago News. This television station is located in the same geographic area as ALA Headquarters. In light of the Illinois Budget Crisis, one writer at the station questioned whether libraries were justifiable expenses or if the money could be better spent shoring up policing, education, and public pension budgets instead.

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