Money Issues

MI Court rules state can not meddle with library fees

Court rules state can't meddle with library fees
State education officials can't interfere with local libraries that charge fees to patrons who live in other communities, the Michigan Court of Appeals said in a decision released Wednesday.

In the Riot-Torn UK: Not One More Library Must Close

Boyd Tonkin: If it wished to rebuild mutual trust, social capital and motives for hope and change in the riot-wrecked streets of a nation's cities, where might a truly idealistic society begin? Perhaps its policy-makers, with money no object, would plan a network of more than 4000 dedicated cultural and community centres, their locations scattered throughout urban areas – not just in downtown hubs and comfortable suburbs. It would protect these centres with a core role defined by statute, but give them enough flexibility to innovate, to connect and to co-operate.

Hopelessly utopian, I know. Except that Britain's network of public libraries already exists. Or rather, it hangs on by the skin of its under-resourced teeth. Roughly 10 per cent of the total, more than 400, currently stand at risk of closure. Dozens have already shut.

I know and have heard all the possible objections to a view of local libraries that puts them at the heart of community renewal. Potential rioters and looters don't care about them anyway. To enter a library in the first place identifies a young person as part of the solution, not the problem. Feral teens who trash the shops will not take an interest in the library until the day dawns when it agrees to stock top-brand ,sportswear and flat-screen TVs.

More from The Independent.

Loving the Library, in Life and Beyond

Nice story from The Baltimore Sun: A former employee of the Baltimore County Public Library, who died in 2006, has left nearly half a million dollars to the foundation that supports to the 17-branch library system.

"It is the largest one-time gift in the history of the Foundation for Baltimore County Public Library," said foundation president Jeffrey Smith.
The gift of $475,000 came from the estate of former librarian Margaret "Peggy" Peterson, whose 23 years with BCPL had made her a familiar face at the Reisterstown, Catonsville and Pikesville branches, and at the BCPL administrative offices in Towson.

"We are grateful to Ms. Peterson for her generosity and for her careful planning," Smith said.

The Name Game

First and foremost there was Andrew Carnegie. Now, there's the New York Public Library's Stephen A. Schwartzman Building where a centennial was recently celebrated. And many, many others...some of whom have pretty funny names.

For a bit of mid-week levity, here's a New Yorker piece about the phenomenon of naming libraries after their generous benefactors:


The Queens County-Abilify Library Museum and Center for the Performing Arts has been unusually blessed with financial angels who shelter us under their collective wing, and we wish to take a moment to recognize them here. Like most cultural institutions of its kind, the Q.C.-A.L.M. & C.P.A. literally would be unable to function without the kindness and generosity of our donors. To put it plainly, we owe them our lives. The sad part, however, is that although visitors to our facility see the names of these individuals gracing our walls, door lintels, exit signs, and other flat surfaces, they don’t know, and rarely stop to inquire, who these wonderful people are. For that regrettable ignorance the following is a small attempt at a remedy.

Read more in this week's New Yorker.

Who Needs Literacy? Only Federal Program Funding School Libraries Eliminated

WASHINGTON, D.C.– The Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program was zeroed out under the Department of Education’s allocation for FY2011 funding (PDF), released today.

Improving Literacy Through School Libraries is the only federal program solely for our nation’s school libraries. This program supports local education agencies in improving reading achievement by providing students with increased access to up-to-date school library materials; well-equipped, technologically advanced school libraries; and professionally certified school librarians.

“This decision shows that school libraries have been abandoned by President Obama and the Department of Education,” Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office, said.

“The Department has withdrawn funding for numerous successful literacy programs in order to launch new initiatives to bolster science, technology, engineering, and math education. Apparently, what the Department of Education fails to realize is that the literacy and research skills students develop through an effective school library program are the very building blocks of STEM education. Withdrawing support from this crucial area of education is an astounding misstep by an Administration that purports to be a champion of education reform.”

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.

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!]

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