Voters support library funding in referenda

Contact: Larra Clark
Media Relations Manager
For Immediate Release
November 29, 2006

Voters support library funding in referenda

(CHICAGO) A national report on library referenda released today by the American Library Association (ALA) shows that the majority of voters approved funding referenda for public, school and academic libraries - including a $90 million funding package for Austin (Texas) public libraries.

American Libraries, the membership magazine of the ALA, features the referenda roundup in its December 2006 issue, and the story can be found online at: The state-by-state review is based on reports from state library agencies and online news reports.

More than 200 measures were on the ballots in 28 states in 2006. Of these, more than 140 measures supported library funding and improvements. Several of the failed measures received greater than 50 percent of voter support but fell short of required supermajorities in states like California, Missouri and Washington. A large-scale measure for Oakland (Calif.) public libraries received 63.5 percent support but failed to get the required two-thirds majority necessary to turn a vacant convention center into a new main library.

The Austin library package won a 60 percent majority and will fund a new 250,000-square-foot central library with more books, accessibility, programming, parking and exhibit space.

New Mexico voters passed a bond measure that will generate up to $9 million in funding for libraries across the state, while California voters rejected a statewide proposition that would have allowed the state to borrow $600 million in bonds for public library construction and renovation.

While results of local ballot measures were mixed in most states, voters in Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Virginia and Wyoming approved all the library measures presented to them in 2006.

"Everyone - young and old, rich and poor - benefits when communities invest in libraries," said ALA President Leslie Burger. "As I travel around the country, I hear more and more stories about how libraries are transforming their communities and changing lives. I'm glad so many people gave their libraries a vote of confidence and support for future growth."

School-funding tax measures that included provisions for libraries passed in Alameda County, Calif., as did a library tax that will provide $180,000 annually to keep the mail library open on Sundays and avoid further cuts to staffing and services. Colorado voters rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to require school districts to spend 65 percent of their operating budgets on classroom spending. The ALA opposes such mandatory spending requirements.

American Libraries is a perquisite of personal membership in the ALA. It circulates to about 65,000 ALA members and more than 3,600 institutional subscribers. Institutional subscriptions are available for $60 a year, single issues for $6. Fax orders to 312-280-5103.