Money Issues

Public Libraries Feel Strain of Budget Cuts

McClatchy DC discusses how cuts have affected libraries in various parts of the country.

From the article: "After spurring a surge in public library use nationwide, the tough economy is forcing many branches to cut staff, hours and programming right when many cash-strapped people need them most.

As in previous downturns, Americans turned to their libraries during the Great Recession for free children's programming or to borrow books, movies and music. In 2008, when the economy was in freefall, a record 68 percent of Americans had a library card, and library visits and borrowing spiked as well.

However, a whopping 72 percent of public libraries reported budget cuts this year; 43 percent cut staff as well, according to a recent survey by the Library Journal.

While public libraries rely overwhelmingly on local tax dollars, 19 states cut public library funding this year, and 17 reported library closures, a new American Library Association survey found.

Big-city libraries have been hit hardest. Among those with more than a million annual visitors, roughly 9 in 10 cut budgets and staff. System-wide cuts in their operating hours, on average, amounted to two branch closings, the journal survey found. -- Read More

Elegy for librarians

Elegy for librarians: After all the budget cutting's done, who'll be around to help us ask the sharper questions?
If librarians seem distracted these days, you can't blame them. They're worried that they'll lose jobs. As cities, counties, public schools and universities all grapple with recessionary budget cuts, libraries look like low-hanging fruit. In this iEverything age, the thinking goes, books are musty relics. And without books, who needs librarians? The truth is that we've never needed them more
[Thanks to Gary for the link!]

Libraries, the Universe and Everything

I'd like to take this time to put forward a grand unifying theory of libraries:
Librarians are not unified.

I was reading a discussion of at the Annoyed Librarian and some librarians continue to follow the dream of believing in a world where all librarians share the common goals of service to the customer, preservation of materials, intellectual freedom and open access to information.

And they are completely and totally wrong.

The primary goal of a librarian is to be a librarian. And that means getting paid to do it.

If you're not getting paid to be a librarian, then you're not a librarian. You might have a degree, but currently you're a barista. Or a teacher. Or a consultant.

But your number one goal is to get a regular paycheck.

And that is the dilemma.

Because to earn that paycheck, you have two main avenues of service: the private sector or the public sector. And that is where the problem exists.

The goals of the private sector are almost completely antipodal to the goals of the public sector. Since the public sector relies on public monies, or taxes, that are paid by the private sector, there's almost a perpetual battle to divide those assets. Because the private sector would prefer to pay less in taxes while the public sector would benefit from more being collected. And as one side grows stronger, the other tends to weaken.

Public. Private.

From where does the money come? -- Read More

Ohio Governor John Kasich Proposes Cuts To State Funding For Libraries

The Ohio Library Council has a breakdown posted concerning Ohio Governor John Kasich's 2012-2013 biennium budget. Public libraries are looking at a 5% cut in state-level funding. Compared to libraries, WJW in Cleveland reports townships and municipalities were hit in the budget with a 25% cut in Local Government Fund dollars in 2012 and a 50% cut of such funds in 2013. Columbus-based Ohio News Network also reports on the budget that other proposals include capping tuition, creating three-year bachelor's degree programs, and increasing funding for K-12 education.

Maine Librarian's Pointed Budget Message Hits the Mark

This is excellently summarized, regarding many states' budget struggles, not overly long.
Maine Librarian's Pointed Budget Message Hits the Mark
http://www.commondreams.org/

Angelenos Vote To Pass Measure L

From the LA Times:

Voters passed Measure L, which would set aside a greater share of property tax revenue for the city's cash-strapped library system. That measure was backed by library advocates but opposed by the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which feared the measure would result in budget cuts to public safety.

More on Measure L.

Say Yes to Measure L on March 8

Additional information on Measure L here.

Economy and libraries

Interesting piece at NYT.com about the economic situation of cities. Relevance to libraries is that many public libraries operate within the economics of a municipality.

Line from article: The city managers couldn’t make their budget and eliminated financing for the local museum, the symphony and the senior center. (This is the kind of list that often contains "library")

Broke Town, U.S.A.

Texas Library Budget Crisis

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, [librarians are] "normally a quiet bunch" but about 250 from all corners of the state made some noise Wednesday at the Texas Capitol as they tried to head off looming budget cuts that would virtually eliminate state support for public libraries.

"If these programs are not funded, then it will affect every community, every school and every institution of higher education in the state," said Gloria Meraz, communications director for the Texas Library Association.

The cutbacks could mean reduced access to TexShare, a mammoth database service available in 677 libraries, and to a K-12 database provided for 4.5 million Texas schoolchildren and 500,000 educators.

"If the Fort Worth Public Library had to negotiate for the TexShare database on their own, it would cost $2 million a year," said Peggy Rudd, director of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Also targeted for elimination is funding for TexNet Interlibrary Loan programs and Loan Star Library Grants, which provides money to extend hours and other services.

Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/02/16/2855602/at-texas-capitol-librarians-protest.html#ixz...

Measure L in Los Angeles Coming to a Vote, But Major Papers Say "Vote No"

LA Weekly: Due to drastically reduced library hours and staff, which were caused by severe, City Hall-approved budget cuts children's librarian Terri Markson says her outreach work to local schools has been diminished, it's very difficult to arrange student field trips to the Fairfax Branch, and the library is now closed on Mondays -- a crucial day that starts off a student's academic week.

"The library is where (kids) type up their homework," says Markson, noting that many students from low- to middle-income families don't own a computer and printer and go to a library to use those things.

It's a shocking situation, in which politicians have quickly turned one of the largest and most respected library systems in the country into an institution that's now less kid-friendly, less student-friendly, and less family-friendly. But Measure L, an initiative authored by L.A. City Councilman Bernard Parks, seeks to help those kids and families by better funding L.A.'s public libraries.

The ballot measure will not increase taxes, but dedicates a slightly larger slice of existing money in the city's general fund to the library system. -- Read More

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