New 2001 library funding wins voter support throughout U.S.

Contact: Larra Clark


ALA News Release

For Immediate Release

November 20, 2001

New 2001 library funding wins voter support throughout U.S.

Despite economic worries, voters nationwide voted to support increased funding for their community libraries. Twenty-three states had referenda on their ballots that affected libraries. Loudoun County, Va., was a big winner with a vote to approve $46.4 million to expand a library and build a recreational center, and Houston Public Library benefits from a bond issue that will provide $40 million to improve the central and branch libraries.

American Libraries, the magazine of the American Library Association (ALA), will publish a round-up of election results in its January 2002 issue. Results are available

Voters overwhelmingly supported a $9.5 million bond issue that will pay for a complete renovation at the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library, Ohio. The library plans to expand its children's area, create a new teen center and collaborate with local arts organizations to offer free after-school programs. Library measures also were approved in Columbiana, Middlefield, Painesville, Perry, Shaker Heights and Twinsburg.

"Libraries are changing and dynamic places," said ALA President John W. Berry. "New funding allows us to improve our facilities to accommodate new technology, community meeting space and exhibition areas. As the needs of our communities shift and expand, so must our libraries so that we can continue to offer free access to the best information and resources." Several hundred public library projects have been completed in the last two years.

The Houston bond measure allows the library to begin implementation of its strategic master plan, which includes building or expanding four branch libraries, significant renovations to branches libraries and the Central Library and the completion of the library's plan to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

"I am very pleased and thankful that the citizens of Houston responded to the needs of their library, and granted the funds for us to being the implementation of our Master Plan - 'Standards for Excellence,'" said Library Director Barbara Gubbin.

Several California communities voted to improve school, community college and public libraries. An $88 million measure passed in San Mateo will upgrade classrooms and modernize libraries in the Sequoia Union High School District. Orinda voters easily passed a parcel tax to expand library hours from 29 to 54 hours per week.

Other states that voted to support new library funding include: Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, New York, North Carolina and Utah.

In Washington state, libraries are affected by the passage of Initiative 747, which limits property tax increases. The state department of revenue estimates that the referenda will cost state and local governments $1.8 billion over six years. Seattle Mayor Paul Schell asked all city departments other than police and fire to cut spending by 4 percent.

American Libraries circulates to about 63,000 ALA members and more than 3,000 institutional subscribers.