Saturday, April 21, 2007

Tough Road for library funding

Some library funding stories from the past few weeks around the nation:

Town library will get funding, Plainfield leader saysBy JESSICA DURKIN Norwich Bulletin
April 4, 2007 (Norwich, CT)
PLAINFIELD -- First Selectman Kevin Cunningham said Tuesday selectmen will continue funding the Plainfield Public Library in next year's budget.
Six members of the library board and the librarian attended a Board of Finance meeting Tuesday, upset selectmen eliminated the library's funding for next year, which threatened closure.

Library officials asked the money be put back into the selectmen's proposed budget.
"I'm sure many people would be very angry to find out the town will have no library," Librarian Nancy Wilcox told the board.

Yes I would imagine people would be unhappy that one day they have a library and one day they don't without any public input. Its amazing how flippant city officials can be with the library budget and operations.

Library funding approved, tax rates same as last yearBy Anita J. Firebaugh
Craig County, Virginia April 21, 2007

The county has also put $13,850 in the regional library line item and allotted $6,000 for tourism.Prior to the budget hearing, Marjorie Hodge, president of the Friends of the Library, told the supervisors the library is a necessary service to citizens and that use numbers continue to increase.She asked the supervisors to include funding for a part-time paid library employee in the upcoming budget.The county had to give back $5,176 in state funding to the Library of Virginia because the local library had failed to meet its obligations. One of those obligations is a paid staff member.

Its too bad that local governments don't understand the value of libraries and too often they are found on the chopping block. I like that many state libraries provide a punitive incentive to fund libraries. The availability of books and library services should be as commonplace as the streets one drives on.

Cap to library funding considered
By NAOMI SMOOT / Journal Staff Writer
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Berkely County, West Virginia
During the meeting, commissioners told delegates that they would also be interested in finding a way to cap the amount of money that they put toward libraries. In the past five years, the county’s library funding allocation has increased from $289,000 to more than $500,000, Overington said. Commissioners agreed that the increase had been sizable, and questioned whether their budget could continue to accommodate this expansive growth in the library’s funding requests.“Everybody else comes to petition before the County Commission,” Commissioner Bill Stubblefield said. “We can’t afford this continual escalation.”Commissioner Ron Collins agreed, noting that he was beginning to question the amount of funding that the county is being asked to put towards libraries each year. He said it was time to consider a cap on the amount of money that they would allocate for the library. Stubblefield said he would be interested in seeing a cap placed on the library’s funding, perhaps at the 2007 budget level.At present, the library has a $1.5 million budget, $540,000 of which comes from educational funding.

Goodness, you mean that the people who want library services and have asked for an increase in library services shouldn't get it? Why is that? Why should there be a cap on library services, is there a cap on other government services? I also have a difficult time in the complaint about the rise of library funding a mere $200,000 in five years, that's only $40,000 a year! How cheap can you get! I always find it surprising how governments want to squeeze libraries instead of putting a general squeeze on all services. I am also surprised how much service these libraries can provide in the midst of these trying situations.

Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks' battle with Central Library
Daily Record (Rochester, NY), Feb 23, 2007 by Tara E. Buck
Poll: Readers split on Internet policy, APril 20, 2007
Rochesther (Monroe County), New York

RBJ Daily Report readers are divided sharply on Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks’ threat to withdraw all county funding of the Central Library unless it acts immediately to “halt the public viewing of pornography and other graphic materials” on computers at the library.

To filter or not to filter can be discussed in a reasonable matter. Libraries must comply with federal law unless the local municipality should choose to refuse federal grant money. Libraries are cash strapped as it is, so its difficult to get such an extreme reaction from a funding source. To say "Filter or I will close your library" seems extraordinarily extreme, especially since computer and internet access is just ONE of many services the library provides.

Times can be very tough for libraries. All I know is that the more the financial decision makers use libraries, the more they understand their use, the more funding that usually follows.

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