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Library Funding News

 

January 2008

 

  • Seattle, Wash. (January 20, 2008): Due to funding issues, the quality of Seattle-area school libraries’ services have suffered in terms of staffing and programming. Offerings like story hour are endangered as librarians’ positions are expanded to include technology coordination and administration of standardized testing, as library aide jobs are slashed. School librarians in Washington are often forced to work extra, uncompensated hours in order to ensure their facilities are adequately stocked and ready to engage students. The loss of time librarians ideally would have to devote to developing quality collections, teaching about literature and research, have been sacrificed in favor of new expanded responsibilities made necessary by elimination of support staff. Librarians cite that such diminishing of service serves to make libraries less relevant and will decrease the overall quality of education. In the face of these troubling trends, advocacy groups are standing up for libraries in Washington. From established groups like the Washington Library Media Association to the grassroots advocacy effort started by concerned parents in Spokane, parents and librarians are speaking out in favor of well-funded, well-staffed school libraries. – From The Seattle Times
  • Providence, Rhode Island – (January 9, 2008) – In the face of continuing funding woes, the Providence Public Library (PPL) is considering laying off seven children’s librarians this spring. Those positions have been the subject of debate over the past several months, and city officials knew of the lack of funding for them since summer 2007. At that time, the city pressed PPL to move $250,000 originally slated for pensions towards salaries to prevent the layoffs. Now, the library says that that money will run out in May and, barring any additional funding being found, those seven positions will be cut in March. – From The Providence Journal 

 

December 2007

 

  • Spokane, Wash. (December 23, 2007):  A group of concerned parents in Spokane, Washington have joined forces to oppose budget and staffing cuts in school libraries. In the face of school districts opting to lay off librarians, cut hours, minimize programming, and combine jobs with minimally trained part-time staff to cut costs, the parents started a grassroots initiative which eventually became a statewide campaign to preserve quality school library media services.  

Maintaining that education suffers when librarians are not part of the school education process, the parents took action, emailing everyone they knew about an online petition, posting flyers around town, and advertised on online social networking sites. In addition, they gave presentations to educators in the community as well as maintained a presence at school board meetings. For expenses, they used personal funds, in addition to selling T-shirts to pay for lobbying trips to the state capital in Olympia, where this month (December) they hand-delivered 2,500 signatures to a state government committee investigating Washington state’s obsolete school funding system.

 

Accustomed to professional lobbyists and official representatives of educational organizations, state legislators embraced the group and found their efforts to be forceful and focused. Republican state Representative Skip Priest stated that “librarians embody what is important for education,” continuing on to say, “(the parents) gave people an opportunity to say, ‘yes, this is important.’ That is special – not unique, but it’s unusual, because here is a couple of concerned parents who are doing more than writing or emailing. They’re expressing views clearly and forcefully and providing a website so that others who agree can express their views as well.”

 

The number of school library media specialists varies widely from state to state and district to district, said Julie A. Walker, executive director of American Assn. of School Librarians (a division of the American Library Association).   School library funding tends to track overall education funding, she said. South Carolina and Arkansas have the highest percentage of librarians in schools, nearly one per school, because of statewide legislative mandates, and California has the lowest because of the lingering impact of Proposition 13, Walker said. – From the Los Angeles Times 

  • Ewing, New Jersey - (December 5, 2007) Due to budget cuts instituted by Governor Jon Corzine, there has been a $1 million cut in funding to the New Jersey Knowledge Initiative, a package of electronic resources available to all colleges in the state which included EBSCOhost. Due to this funding cut, colleges and universities across New Jersey will have to find alternative means to fund access to EBSCOhost, a popular online academic database on which many students depend to conduct research. At the College of New Jersey in Ewing, access may be removed completely in February. – From The Signal   
  • Sharon, Pennsylvania - (December 1, 2007) Sharon Mayor Bob Lucas has submitted a proposed municipal budget that would cut the $100,000 allotment to the Community Library of the Shenango Valley. Citing a 2006 consultant’s study suggesting the city pull all library funding, the mayor stood by his recommendation. While some city council members said that nothing is finalized and that the council will explore different options, there is doubt that it will be able to give the library anywhere near the original $100,000 allotment. Such a shift will make the library rely on donations from the community.   – From The Herald (of Shenango Valley and Mercer County, Pa.    

 

November 2007

  • Louisville, Kentucky - (November 13, 2007) This past Election Day, Louisville voters turned down a referendum by a 2-1 margin that would boost funding for the library district by $40 million. The increase would have been implemented as a tax increase on occupational licensure and business profits, translating to an extra $76 per year for a person earning $38,000. An opposition group called Support the Libraries, Not the Tax, filed a formal complaint against the library with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, alleging that it broke state law in promoting the referendum among employees.

October 2007

  • Jackson County, Oregon  – (October 17, 2007) Shuttered since April due to a loss of federal funding, all 15 branch libraries in Jackson County will open their doors in late October with shorter operating hours. Brought on by the termination of a federal payment program for counties dependent on the declining timber industry, the libraries will now be operated by LSSI, a for-profit private company based in Maryland. According to ALA Immediate Past-President Leslie Burger, outsourcing of library services to for-profit companies, while rising, is still a relatively rare phenomenon. – From The Oregonian                  
  • Broward County, Florida – (October 7, 2007) The publicly-supported library at Nova Southeastern University, along with the rest of Broward County libraries, will face a large cut in funding to help pay for property tax cuts. Since opening in 2001, the library has received $5.5 million a year in county funds - accounting for 40% of its operating budget. Under an agreement reached by university trustees and the county board, public funding will be slashed by $600,000. – From the South FloridaSun-Sentinel             
  • Covina, California – (October 5, 2007) During a presentation to the Covina City Council, library director Roger Possner said that if the city does not increase the library budget from its current $10,000 alotted for the 2008 fiscal year, the facility will close next summer – a drastic cut from the $1.3 million on which it currently operates. The cuts come as a result of a city vote not to continue a utility tax, which provided $5.5 million for the municipal budget, and a prioritization of public safety. If the facility closes, it would be the first time in California history that a city library was forced to shut its doors. – From the San GabrielValleyTribune  
  • Chicago, Illinois – (October 3, 2007) In the face of mounting opposition from the City Council, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley is refusing to back down from a record property tax - $108 million – to expand and operate the city’s library system. In the 18 years since Daley first took office, the library system has added 59 new branches during a time when most municipal library systems faced closures and budget cuts. The special levy would cost the owner of a $200,000 house an additional $59 per year. – From the ChicagoSun-Times 

September 2007

  •  Indianapolis, Indiana – (September 12, 2007)Citing a “very austere” budget due to growing expansion costs at the central library, the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library board made several cuts in areas such as new books and media, cutting $500,000 after city leaders essentially froze the library’s tax rate. – From the Indianapolis Star    

August 2007

  • Waukesha, Wisconsin – (August 30, 2007) By a margin of 22-9, the Waukesha County Board failed to override a county executive veto, killing a plan that would have increased public library funding by $345,000. Four board members who had previously supported the funding increase were absent, making the margin 22-9, two votes short of an override. Opponents of the increase cited that the issue was a “tax issue,” and that raising library district’s $15 million budget was needless. – From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel      
  • Massachusetts – (August 14, 2007)In the wake of failed tax-limit override measures in communities throughout Massachusetts, libraries are facing loss of accreditation, branch closures, and deep cuts in service. In Dunstable, the library’s future is now uncertain due to the failure of an override that would increase its funding by $15,000, and it now faces the prospect of losing its state accredation, rights to interlibrary loan, and ineligibility to receive state building grants. From the Boston Globe  
  • California (August 2, 2007) Libraries across California will be seeing less state funding this year as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed $15 million in public library funding from the budget he signed on August 24th. Included in the cuts was $8 million to go to the Public Library Foundation and $7 million to the transaction-based reimbursed program. Due to the numbers being based on how much libraries are used by patrons outside the community, the full scope of the impact to libraries is not yet known. From the Desert Sun 

July 2007

  • Sultan, Washington – (July 11, 2007) The town of Sultan, Washington, may be forced to shut down the city library. According to City Administrator Deborah Knight, the proposed budget cuts will save the town $200,000 in 2007 if implemented by September 1. Closure of the library, a branch of the Sno-Isle Regional Library System, is estimated to save $91,000. To keep the library and other threatened city services, the voters of Sultan will be presented with a referendum to increase the property tax from $1.57 to $2.10 per $1,000. From the Seattle Times
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – (July 14, 2007) Pennsylvania’s public libraries, including many Carnegie libraries, most of which are aging, are in line to lose $1.6 million in much needed repair funds as the state Legislature completes work on a $27.3 billion state budget. Under question is the 14-year-old Keystone Park and Recreation Fund, which finances outdoor activites and historic sites. Out of this fund, libraries are allocated 4 percent of its funds for capital improvements, which amounted to $4 million last year alone. However, a state Senate bill under consideration is calling for a transfer of $40 million out of that fund for hazardous waste cleanup, which would cut the libraries’ share by $1.6 million. – From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 
  • Providence, Rhode Island  – (July 17, 2007) In order to forestall layoffs of library staff, the Providence Public Library has agreed to use $250,000 previously earmarked as pension fund contributions. Despite the measure, library officials still state that some staffing cuts will be necessary. In question are seven children’s specialist positions at branch libraries, which earn about $35,000 per year. Karen McAninch, an official with the United Service and Allied Workers of Rhode Island, which represents the library's 90 unionized employees, said that maintaining the seven positions with benefits would cost about $321,000. – From The Providence Journal 
  • St. Paul, Minnesota– (July 23, 2007) In the face of a $16 million budget shortfall, St. Paul is weighing closing several municipal facilities, including two libraries. Cited as a shift in priorities necessitated by significant cuts in aid to local governments, library director Melanie Huggins indicated that the library agency had estimated the proceeds from closing the Hamline Midway and Hayden Heights libraries, eliminating six positions. The city has approached Hamline University about the possibility of co-locating a library, as it had done earlier with Metropolitan State University. – From the Pioneer Press   

 June 2007

  • Boston, Massachusetts - Cities and towns in Massachusetts are losing their libraries as a symptom of municipal budget woes across the state. With flat revenues and rising health care and energy costs, many Massachusetts cities have just two choices - ask voters to raise taxes or cut services. Voters have been increasingly reluctant to approve tax overrides. According to a tally in the Boston Sunday Globe, 60 percent of communities that have asked for tax overrides so far this year have been rebuffed by voters, one of the worst approval records in recent years, according to the Sunday Globe.     
  • Lansing, Michigan - According to Roger Mendel - the director of the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative - all of Michigan's regional library cooperatives are "very much in trouble." Mendel told Library Hotline that Governor Jennifer Granholm's proposed FY08 budget includes $1 billion in total cuts, with state aid to libraries reduced 50 percent, to $6.1 million. Public libraries also would be affected, said Mendel, but not to the same extent. Regional systems depend on the state; some cooperatives get as much as 89 percent of their budgets from that source. At present, both houses are holding subcommittee hearings, according to Library Journal       
  • Fullerton, California - As fiscal-year budget deadlines loom for California school systems, library staff in at least three school districts continue to battle to keep their jobs for FY2008, according to American Libraries. Advocacy by library boosters is triggering the reconsideration of a plan to reassign as classroom teachers all six library technicians serving the Fullerton Joint Union High School District. Library staff was notified April 16 (the beginning of National Library Week) of the plan devised by high-school principals to save $360,000 by reassigning staff.         
  • Bridgewater, New Jersey - Eight library assistants are losing their jobs as part of the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District's (N.J.) $1.6 million in cuts from its $109.5 million budget. The assistants were told in person about the cuts and received a letter from Superintendent Michael Schilder on May 9 that their contracts would not be renewed "due to a reduction in force for reasons of economy." The library assistants, a cut of $127,246, are the only existing staff members who lost jobs, according to the Courier News    
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa - The Cedar Rapids (Iowa) city council passed a budget March 7, 2007, that cut $367,000 from the library’s budget—an 8% reduction. Director Lori Barkema said the library would likely address the cut by eliminating Sunday hours, closing the West Side branch, buying fewer materials, or a combination of those measures.     
  • Washington, DC - The Library of Congress (LC) has lost $47 million in promised federal funds for digital preservation efforts, and it's unclear how many projects and programs will be affected. After the February 15, 2007, passage of P.L. 110-5, $47 million "of the unobligated balances available for the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program" (NDIIPP) was rescinded, according to Library Journal.       
  • Gulf Coast - First Lady Laura Bush announced April 19, 2007, that 14 school libraries in Louisiana and Mississippi would receive $502,000 to help rebuild collections and facilities damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries has granted more than $2.5 million to 40 Gulf Coast school libraries since last May, according to American Libraries.   
  • Hyrum, Utah - Hyrum, Utah opened a new $4 million library in May. The new library offers patrons a children's theater, a special collections/board room, study rooms, a pad for a kitchen and cafe, separate bathrooms for children and adults - and a large fireplace surrounded by comfortable furniture. Tall ceilings and walls of windows make the building spacious and bright, with views of the mountains in each direction. It is equipped with state-of-the-art heating, cooling, lighting and alarm systems, as well as a $50,000 computer system, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.  
  • Columbus, Ohio -  Gov. Ted Strickland’s 2008–09 budget proposal eliminates the freeze in public library funding that has been in effect since 2001. Although the Library and Local Government Support Fund remains frozen through 2007, Strickland has called for a modest increase in the fund, from its current $458-million level to an estimated $462 million in 2008 and $464.9 million in 2009, according to American Libraries.   
  • Peoria, Illinois - Peoria voters overwhelmingly approved plans for a $35 million expansion and makeover of the Peoria library system. With all precincts counted in April 2007, there were 9,951 votes in favor, or 71.6 percent, and 3,949 votes opposed, or 28.4 percent. The City Council still must approve issuing the $35 million in bonds. Plans include a new North Peoria branch and additions or renovations at all branches, according to the PJStar.  
  • Salinas, California - The Salinas Public Library will increase its hours by more than 30 percent. Thanks to funding provided by the passage of Measure V, the library has been able to recruit and train a sufficient number of staff to increase the current 69 hours of service per week — three libraries combined — to 101 hours. This brings the library system closer to the goal of offering 117 hours of service per week by July 1. 

May 2007 

 

  • Oregon - A levy that would have reopened all 15 recently closed libraries in Jackson County, Ore. was defeated May 16. The property tax levy, which would have raised $8.3 million annually, received 31,876 no votes and 21,906 yes votes, a 59.3 percent to 40.7 percent split. (Jackson County's libraries closed on April 6 after Congress failed to renew the Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act, which pumped $23 million into county coffers annually.) Joe Davis, chairman of the Save Our Library System campaign, said he believes many residents voted against the levy because they don't support this method of funding them, according to the Mail Tribune.
  • California - As fiscal-year budget deadlines loom for California school systems, library staff in at least three school districts continue to battle to keep their jobs for FY2008. Advocacy by library boosters is triggering the reconsideration of a plan to reassign as classroom teachers all six library technicians serving the Fullerton Joint Union High School District Library.  Staff was notified April 16 (the beginning of National Library Week) of the plan devised by high-school principals to save $360,000 by reassigning staff, according to American Libraries.
  • New Jersey - Eight library assistants are losing their jobs as part of the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District's (N.J.) $1.6 million in cuts from its $109.5 million budget. The assistants were told in person about the cuts and received a letter from Superintendent Michael Schilder on May 9 that their contracts would not be renewed "due to a reduction in force for reasons of economy." The library assistants, a cut of $127,246, are the only existing staff members who lost jobs, according to the Courier News.
  • Utah - Hyrum, Utah opened a new $4 million library in May. The new library offers patrons a children's theater, a special collections/board room, study rooms, a pad for a kitchen and cafe, separate bathrooms for children and adults - and a large fireplace surrounded by comfortable furniture. Tall ceilings and walls of windows make the building spacious and bright, with views of the mountains in each direction. It is equipped with state-of-the-art heating, cooling, lighting and alarm systems, as well as a $50,000 computer system, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
  • Arkansas - The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that property taxes collected specifically for schools and libraries cannot be diverted to fund commercial development. The ruling goes against the city of Fayetteville’s attempt to use the $25-million tax to pay off bonds issued to clear land for a new downtown hotel, according to American Libraries.
  • Massachusetts - The Massachusetts House of Representatives has approved legislation that would earmark an additional $250,000 in FY2008 for the cash-strapped Medway Public Library. The State Board of Library Commissioners revoked the library’s certification in February, seven months after voters failed to override the state’s Proposition 2 1/2 tax-limitation law to allow the library to stay open 32 hours a week—the state’s minimum requirement. Although the library escaped closing, it has only been open 20 hours a week since June 2006, according to American Libraries.

 

 

 


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