Money Issues

Some MA School Libraries to Open...Sans Librarians

The Bridgewater and Raynham (MA) middle school librarians won’t be getting their jobs back, but the schools’ libraries will remain open.

That was the word from school officials at the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School Committee meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 25. School Committee member Gordon Luciano said after the meeting the decision of the administration to use proctors instead of librarians at the middle schools this year is final and does not need a vote by the school board.

The school committee could have chosen to override the decision, he said. But there was no discussion of possible alternatives and there were no motions by committee members to take a different route.

The school committee meeting was the last before the beginning of school on Wednesday, Aug. 31.

Last year, Bridgewater Middle School and Raynham Middle School each had one full-time librarian. But this year, the funding for those positions was eliminated. Story from the Bridgewater Independent.

Words and Drink: To Help Repair The Children's Section

Stonington CT - Shortly after this spring's flooding caused about $50,000 of damage to the Stonington Free Library's children's section, Peter Brown and his wife, Alexandra Stoddard, were talking to Dog Watch Cafe owner David Eck about how they could help.

Brown, a trial lawyer, decided that he would donate 1,000 copies of his new book, "Figure it Out," to the effort. On Sunday anyone who donated $25 to the library received a signed copy and a free drink at the Dog Watch.

The event was a hit as hundreds made donations to the library during a daylong event at the restaurant, which overlooks Stonington Harbor.

"This has just been a phenomenal success," said Stoddard, an author of books including "Living a Beautiful Life: 500 Ways to Add Elegance, Order, Beauty and Joy to Every Day of Your Life."

Seattle Library Fines: Raise Them...or Not

Public reaction to the prospect of stiffer Seattle library fines was just what you'd expect: mixed. And a bit limited.

City Library Board members are considering raising daily overdue-materials fines from 15 cents to 25 cents, with a maximum fine of $8 for each overdue piece of material. They're also pondering whether to notify parents or guardians of youths 17 and under who owe more than $25 in fines, and to send some youths' backlogged fines to a collection agency, which is not now done.

All this comes as the library has had its budget cut $1.17 million this year and faces even more as the city confronts a two-year, $121-million revenue shortfall through 2012. Library hours and some staff have already been cut and there are warnings that more reductions are possible.

Raising fines and fees could raise $650,000 per year, according to library staff, in addition to the $650,000 the library expects to save by shutting branches down for a week, starting Monday.

Interesting ideas from patrons: 1) accepting credit cards and PayPal
2) allowing payment online and 3) try being a little more serious about collecting fines. Story from Seattle PI.

Libraries in Mecklenburg Took Bigger Cuts

Since getting hit by budget cuts last month, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library system permanently closed three branches, cut hours at others and laid off workers.

But across the region, it's a different story.

Most area county governments - the primary funding source for many libraries - are spending slightly more on their libraries in this fiscal year, which began July 1, than in the past fiscal year, according to an Observer survey of 13 regional county budgets.

Lincoln County commissioners, for example, gave their library system about $35,000 more this year for materials, upgrades to its Internet system and an additional employee.

Five of the region's systems are dealing with overall reductions. In some cases, including Mecklenburg, the cutbacks began earlier this calendar year.

For more see:
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/08/21/1635174/libraries-in-meck-took-bigger.html

Seattle Libraries to Shut Down for a Week

Seattle PI: Seattle's libraries will close for a week beginning late this month, leaving patrons without many normal services while the city continues to ponder how the system will operate on less money next year. It will be the second budget-driven closure in a year.

The system will close Aug. 30 through Sept. 6, including Labor Day, with regular operations to resume Sept. 7. During the closure patrons will be able to download e-books from the system and will have access to databases for encyclopedias, consumer information and investment but won't be able to reserve, pick up or drop off books or talk with librarians. The closure will mean salary reductions for nearly 650 employees who will not be paid during that week.

The library shutdown, part of the city's effort to deal with a $67-million city budget shortfall, was planned for a time when library use is lower than at other times in the year, when school is not in session and fewer programs are scheduled, staffers said.

Mayor Mike McGinn has asked the library and other city agencies to trim budgets to deal with the revenue shortfall. He'll submit a proposed 2011 budget on Sept. 27.

Librarians = Bloat, Claims Goldwater Institute

A new report by a conservative watchdog group concludes the nation's universities have become less efficient over the years by dramatically increasing the number of administrators they hire per student.

"Like any addiction program, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Higher education needs to admit they have a problem of administrative bloat," said Jay Greene, the report's author and head of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas.

The debate over who is considered an administrator in public education is not a new one. Arizona K-12 schools have objected to the way they are evaluated in state audits. Employees fall into one of two categories: "classroom dollars" or "non-classroom dollars." Principals, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and librarians fall into the latter category, even though many parents consider them essential to schools. The Arizona Auditor General's Office has maintained that while classroom dollars shouldn't be the sole measure of evaluating a K-12 school, high spending outside the classroom is a potential sign of inefficient operations.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2010/08/17/20100817collegeadministra...

Hope for Camden's Libraries?

The public libraries in Camden, NJ may not be closing after all. Camden Mayor Dana Redd is announcing a rescue plan that will keep Camden’s public libraries open.

Plans were in the works last week to shut down the three branches of the city library system, because of a $28-million budget gap.

But Redd and freeholder director Louis Cappelli were unveiling a strategy today at a City Hall news conference to keep the libraries open. It’s possible that strategy may include the city becoming part of the Camden County library system.

And from NPR's two-way blog:

On Monday, Redd said a new plan called for the city's library system would join the county's, thereby maintaining library service in the hard-scrabble city across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.

So it seemed a lot more likely Monday than Friday that Camden's residents, many of whom fall below the federal poverty line, will still be able to get access to a library's computers and books.

Somewhere poet Walt Whitman, Camden's most famous man of letters, must be smiling. Ditto for Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin, the creator of one of the nation's earliest lending libraries."

NC Bookstores Helping Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

At a time when the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is suffering from deep county-wide budget cuts, local booksellers are banding together to offer financial support this August.

Three libraries closed indefinitely June 19, and to keep the remaining libraries open, the book-buying budget was reduced by 58 percent since last fiscal year.

That means the average wait time for a new book is six months - sometimes longer.

"We were able to keep the libraries open with the deals made with the municipalities, city and county, but we still had to make cuts elsewhere," said Angela Haigler, communications and marketing director for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

To help out, 18 bookstores in the greater Charlotte area have agreed to hold their own three-day book sales and give a portion of profits to the library's book-buying fund.

"Customers will be asked if they're interested in supporting local libraries, and if they're interested, 10 percent of their purchases for that day will go to the libraries," said Edward Lee, general manager of the Books-A-Million at Concord Mills Mall.

A listing of participating stores and additional information at the Charlotte Observer.

L.A. Public Library Cuts Prompt Demonstration Outside Main

Los Angeles Public Library supporters are gathered outside Central Library today to protest a two-day-a-week closure caused by budget cuts.

The demonstration started at 9:30 a.m. outside the Fifth Street entrance, 630 W. Fifth Street, said Mark Siegel, a city librarian.

Each of the city's 73 libraries will now be closed Sundays and Mondays because of a massive budget shortfall. Library services absorbed a 28% reduction in its workforce.

Siegel said at least seven librarians and 50 support staff have been laid off in the restructuring. He said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council had misplaced priorities in allowing the cuts.

"We just completed a massive rebuilding program, and people aren't able to use their libraries," he said. "We want them to move us up on the list."

Video from ABC news and story from the LA Times and the LA Daily News.

Priorities in Indianapolis: City Finds Millions for NBA Team but Cuts Library Budget

Dozens of readers stretched out with books on blankets and in lawn chairs on the American Legion Mall across the street from the main branch of the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, reading quietly to themselves to protest proposed budget cuts that could reduce hours and close library branches.

"I am here supporting the libraries of Indianapolis and hoping they don't get closed," said Mindy Grayson as she cracked open a weathered copy of the 1931 classic, The Impatient Virgin.

The city's library system is facing a $7 million budget deficit by 2014 as acknowledged by Mayor Greg Ballard Monday. "Over the past few months my administration has engaged the library system to prevent branch closings," Ballard said.

Ballard's comment came as he announced a $33.5 million deal to loan operating funds to the Indiana Pacers to keep the NBA team at Conseco Fieldhouse for the next three years.

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