Money Issues

Pondering Budget Reprogramming

Lenora Oftedahl flagged on the PNLA list a story by Fox Chicago News. This television station is located in the same geographic area as ALA Headquarters. In light of the Illinois Budget Crisis, one writer at the station questioned whether libraries were justifiable expenses or if the money could be better spent shoring up policing, education, and public pension budgets instead.

Struggling Economy Makes For More Library Users

DUNEDIN – As the economy grew tougher, the community leaned harder on the Dunedin Public Library reports the Tampa Bay Weekly.

Anne Shepherd, library director, said libraries have quickly become sources of e-government – governmental services that now deal with business online whereas before there was an office people would visit to do business.

This first started with early voting, Shepherd said, which was the first time the library was particularly impacted by large amounts of people coming for nontraditional library services. Then the economy changed.

“In the past, what we saw was people coming in to read their e-mail, print boarding passes, kind of fun or recreational uses of the computers,” Shepherd said. “And now, starting about three years ago, we saw a big change, where people are coming in desperate. Sometimes in tears. ‘I have to apply, I don’t have a job, I want to apply, I don’t know how to use a computer.’ And at first we were kind of shocked, like how could these agencies have done this to these people, but then we decided we couldn’t do anything about that. Instead, what we’ll do is learn how to help these people.”

California's Broke, But San Diego's Getting a New Library

San Diego is getting a new expensive main library. The City Council took an historic vote last night to go ahead with construction of a new central library downtown.

Anyone who has lived in San Diego for a while knows that the dream of a new central library has been in and out of the news for years. The architect, Rob Quigely, designed its imposing dome shape in the 1990s. The site on Park Boulevard in the East Village was chosen a decade later, and now, finally, a contract will be signed to break ground. The First phase is estimated to cost about $150 million.

Mayor Jerry Sanders reminded the city council that $17 million has already gone into planning and well over $100 million has been scraped together so far to build it. Another $32 million is required to finish the job. Without that, the doors won’t be able to open in 2014, the state mandated deadline. The vote was not unanimous.

“We’ve invested nearly 20 years into planning for this new central library,” Sanders said. “As you make your decision, I want to remind you that not one cent of this project’s funding can be used for other city services. It can’t be used for branch libraries, can’t put additional police or firefighters on the streets, and it can’t be used to fix potholes.

Illinois Talking Book Program Will Remain Open

The Voice of Vision program, which provides talking books to visual or physical impaired residents in 12 counties, including dozens in Geneva and Batavia, has received funding to remain open for at least another year.

The DuPage Library System, which operated Voices of Vision in Geneva, and the Illinois State Library have signed an agreement to keep the center open thanks to a grant from the federal Library Services and Technology Act.

The center was slated to close after July this year because it had not received 97 percent of its 2010 grant from the state, which was worth about $450,000.

UK Authors fear cut in income from library loans

Authors fear cut in income from library loans
Minor romantic novelists might not be the first group to come to mind when you consider deprived victims of the current public spending cuts. But they and a host of the UK's lesser known authors are up in arms at the prospect of a drop in their already limited incomes through cuts in the money paid out on library loans.

Citizens: Get on the Bandwagon for Your Library

In an call to action for libraries in the Huffington Post, Carol Fitzgerald of Bookreporter.com gave advice on what to do to fight the proposals by many local governments to cut library services--or in the case of her hometown, Cedar Grove, N.J., to cut the library system entirely.

"Write your Senators impassioned letters on what libraries have meant and mean to you today. Talk about how important all libraries--school, public and college--are to this country and how awful it will be when they start closing or experience devastating reductions in services. The more personal the note, the more effective.... Also, consider writing an Op-Ed piece or other article for your local paper."

Don't forget to check in at Save Libraries for the latest news on how libraries around the country are faring and what can be done to help. Another site in the same vein (although I think saving is a lot more encouraging than losing), Losing Libraries, in cooperation with Library Journal.

Thirteen Westchester Counties Protest Library Cuts

If passed, New York's Gov. Paterson's proposed budget cuts would bring state funding to libraries down to just $84.5 million.

In the Westchester Library System (WLS), half of the 38 public libraries have cut back their hours due to budget cuts just since 2008, and 50 full-time jobs have been eliminated in only the past year.

"Given the state's fiscal woes, reductions in state spending are unfortunately unavoidable – yet funding for our libraries cannot be further compromised," said State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer.

Calling the library system a "great equalizer" she noted that libraries serve the greater community in a way so few organizations do: "They are places where individuals of any means can find answers to their questions in a very calm sanctuary."

Dave Donelson, a Trustee of the WLS, slammed the proposed budget, and juxtaposed the need and demand for public libraries to ticket sales of major-league baseball. " There were over 8 million visits to Westchester libraries in 2009," said Donelson. "That's more than a full season attendance at Yankee Stadium."

"Libraries are not just a depository of books; libraries are places where teenagers gather after school, where seniors come for help navigating the maze of our health insurance system, and where thousands of people come for help finding a job," he said.

Photos and story of the protest from Chappaqua Patch.

Five Towns Step Up to the Plate for Mecklenburg County Libraries

Charlotte, NC – In a historic move, five of the Towns in Mecklenburg County have committed to providing one-time support to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library for fiscal year 2011 (FY2011). In each of the five Towns, local governing bodies met, and approved or conditionally approved an Interlocal Cooperation Agreement with the Library.
The five participating Towns have committed to the following levels of support.

* Cornelius: $175,000 contribution
* Davidson: forgiveness of lease payment in the amount of approximately $37,000; and solicitation of additional donations to total $175,000
* Huntersville: in-kind contributions such as programs, cross-promotion, representative liaison for the Huntersville
* Destinations Round Table, and police/security presence in and around the North County Regional Library
* Matthews: restructuring of lease to defer current payment to 2018 of $205,000
* Mint Hill: $175,000 contribution

With this latest contribution of approximately $730,000 from the Towns, the Library will have approximately $23.3 million to operate its 20 remaining locations in FY2011. This is a significant decrease from approximately $32 million in County funding for FY2010; but an increase from the originally proposed funding level of $17.67 million. -- Read More

Reprieve for Some Boston Libraries

Report from The Globe: Four Boston libraries targeted for closing at the end of the summer won a temporary reprieve and will remain open at least through the winter, the Menino administration announced yesterday.

The city added another $654,000 to the library’s balance sheet, giving the system enough money for at least another nine months. The extra money buys more time to work with each affected neighborhood to make plans for the buildings when the library branches do close down.

“We’ve been listening to the community, and we understand the desire for more planning time,’’ said Amy E. Ryan, president of the Boston Public Library. “This extension demonstrates the commitment of the city to keep these facilities open and accessible to the community. We believe that with continued input from the public, a new use for these buildings can be found.’’

But the move did little to mollify some of the loudest critics of the city plan to fill a deep funding gap. State lawmakers who attended a library trustees meeting yesterday at the main library in Copley Square scoffed at the gesture by the city. They made it clear that they would make good on their threat to strip the library of what remains of its state funding if the city follows through with plans to close any library branches. -- Read More

Urban Librarians: We Will Not Be Shushed

It was the literary equivalent of a filibuster, a bookworm’s take on 1960s-style protest. Aliqae Geraci called libraries “a huge support system for the unemployed.”

A 24-hour stream of sentences and stories, spanning the canon from George Eliot to “Gossip Girl,” flowed from dozens of book-loving New Yorkers this weekend who were concerned about austere budget cuts to libraries proposed by City Hall.

Not typically ones to raise their voices (ed.-oh yeah?), librarians staged an overnight read-in on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library on Grand Army Plaza to criticize the city’s plan to close 40 branches by month’s end, and to reduce hours and employees at those that remain.

“In the Great Depression, the New York public libraries were kept open seven days a week,” said Aliqae Geraci, a librarian in Queens and a coordinator of the event. “It is a huge support system for the unemployed and the transient.”

Another organizer, Christian Zabriskie, put it more bluntly.
“We librarians have a saying,” he said with a grin. “You can close our libraries when you step over our cold, beaten bodies, chained to the doors.”

The organizers are hoping the City Council will restore financing to avoid the cuts, which they say will particularly hurt the city’s less fortunate, who depend on libraries for Internet access and employment help. The reading attracted more than 200 volunteer readers, twice the number needed to fill each of the 15-minute slots. -- Read More

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