Posts tagged ‘library cuts’

What you can do for libraries

There’s a lot that libraries can do for you including providing fun programs, a quiet place to read or study, homework help, tax forms, technology training, free Internet access, and volunteer opportunities. But there’s something you can do for libraries–and they need your help.

I recently wrote about the trouble Indiana libraries are facing due to property tax caps and the cuts school libraries are facing in Monroe County. But yesterday delivered stunning, devastating news about New Jersey libraries: they’re facing a 74% reduction in funding.

The cuts, which add up to $10.4 million, could also cost New Jersey access to $4.5 million in federal matching funds which, among other things, currently provides internet access for roughly two-thirds of the state’s 306 public libraries.

That’s right: No Internet at the library. Never mind that the public library is the only free internet access in 78 percent of communities, according to the New Jersey Library Association; or that many state agencies have moved their forms on-line.

It’s especially disheartening that this news comes at the beginning of National Library Week. Especially through Internet access, technology training, and database access, libraries are becoming more important, not less. And while everyone needs to make cuts when state budgets get trimmed, libraries are being disproportionately targeted.

Yet another irony is that, of all the villains that have pushed New Jersey to the brink of financial oblivion, libraries simply aren’t one of them. Librarians aren’t represented by powerful unions. Their pay hasn’t escalated at 4 percent to 6 percent a year. Library funding at the state level has been flat for twenty years.

“We have never fed at the trough like public safety and education,” said Robert White, executive director of Bergen County Cooperative Library System, which represents 75 libraries across four counties. “And now we’re being punished for it.”

If you’re in the area, there will be a rally in Trenton on 6 May to demonstrate support for New Jersey libraries. You can also contact legislators, send a letter to the paper, or join supporters on Facebook at Save My NJ Library.

And since it is National Library Week, be sure to tell your own legislators that you support your library. If you’re in Indiana, you can do that online via the Indiana Library Federation. You can also take national action via the ALA website, where they’re asking you to talk to your senator by 14 April (that’s this Wednesday) to express your support for libraries before the Senate Appropriations Committee meets to determine funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries (ILTSL) program in its FY2011 budget.

You can also use the ALA’s Library Value Calculator to see how valuable your local library is to you as a patron–or to your community if you’re a librarian trying to defend your institution.

And finally, if you haven’t yet sent in your Census form, please do so. The number of people in your community determines how federal funds will be allocated, and your library is one of the organizations that will be affected by that funding. While it may not seem like one person really matters, when it comes to the Census, you do.

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April 12, 2010 at 10:44 AM 1 comment

News: property tax caps and Indiana libraries, microfilm art, and YALSA mentoring

About two years ago, the Indiana legislature voted to institute a property tax cap of 1% for residential homes effective in 2010, and Governor Mitch Daniels signed the bill into law. This is bad news for libraries because in Indiana, most of the library’s income is from property taxes (about 80%, in fact, according to the director of the Allen County Public Library). Budgets were cut, hiring was reduced, and cost-saving measures were introduced. The St. Joseph County Public Library said it’d cut all its Saturday hours. A year after the tax caps were announced and revenue cuts had begun, most of the library branches in Vigo County were closed. This fall the Anderson Public Library cut its hours. And yesterday, the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library (IMCPL) announced that they’d likely be closing six branches and cutting 55 jobs. Back in January one poll showed the governor’s approval rating was about 65% across the state with his highest rating (around 70%) in the Indy area, and about 73% of people approve of the tax caps. Libraries provide things like story times and recreational reading and fun programs, but we also provide absolutely essential resources like computer and Internet access and assistance in filing for unemployment online. I’m really hoping that when library services, hours, and staff get cut, people reconsider their approval of property tax caps, but since even cutting fire departments by about 30% hasn’t convinced people that the tax caps are a bad idea, I just don’t know how hopeful I can be.

In more cheerful news, IUPUI’s University Library recently got rid of about half of its microfilm collection and the librarian in charge of the weeding project, Mindy Cooper, was determined to keep it out of the landfill. According to Mindy, a lot of it went to students at the Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI, Indiana art teachers, and the Eiteljorg Museum, and one of the things it was used for was to make this collage by Alisa Nordholt-Dean at the Eiteljorg. What a neat reuse of discarded library materials!

Finally, the application process for YALSA’s mentoring program began on Monday (here’s the official blog post). They’re looking for librarians who’ve been working with teens in public or school libraries for at least six years to be paired up with new librarians and graduate school students to form a mutually beneficial mentoring relationship. The application forms are due by 30 June and reference forms should be submitted by 7 July. Participants will be notified of their selection in mid-September. I’ve applied and I’m hoping to be selected, but regardless of whether or not I’m invited to participate, I think this is a really cool program and I’m glad YALSA is offering this opportunity not only for new librarians to have guidance, advice, and a source of encouragement, but also to give more seasoned librarians a chance to pass on some of their wisdom and learn new things themselves.

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April 10, 2010 at 4:02 PM 1 comment

Disappearing school libraries

I received an email today via the IU SLIS listserv about the continuing struggle against school funding cuts in Monroe County. An independent group is planning a rally on 10 April to recruit volunteers to pass a funding referendum. I haven’t been able to find freely accessible news posts about the rally, but most of the information is reproduced on the Bloomington Moms Meetup Group. The proposed funding cuts would, among other things, eliminate all elementary and middle school librarian positions, leaving just one high school librarian.

And Monroe County is not alone. It’s happening in Connecticut, in New Jersey, in Arizona, and in California, too. In fact, all across the country, school library services and staff are being cut or professional librarians are being replaced with paraprofessionals. This Google Map (created by someone listed only as Shonda) shows “a nation without school librarians”–places where certified school librarian positions are to be eliminated or where librarians will have to work across multiple schools. If this is happening near you and it’s not represented on the map, be sure to update it. And stop by and tell Edi of Crazy Quilts what school libraries have meant to you.

But most importantly, be sure to tell your local government and school board why school libraries matter. Start with “Young Learners Need Librarians, Not Just Google” by Mark Moran for Forbes and Sara Scribner’s “Saving the Google Students” at the LA Times (thanks to Eilir for the links) and “Student Reading Skills Improve With Library Funding” by Jack Humphrey in the Indy Star. When funding gets tight, cuts are going to be made–but we can try to protect our schools and libraries for the demonstrable benefit they bring.

March 31, 2010 at 10:08 PM 1 comment

Recent library blog news: Reading Rants and Let Me Think

Our trip to Auburn went really well on Saturday! I’ll be writing a post about it tomorrow. For now, just a few news items from the library blogosphere.

Reading Rants, written by Jennifer Hubert and designed by Andrew Mutch, is a collection of booklists and book reviews that’s been around since 1998 (first as a website and then in 2007 as a blog. They also published a book). Jennifer posted to YALSA-bk yesterday announcing that with the help of her 7th graders and Andrew, Reading Rants had gotten a template redesign.

There’s been some controversy in central Indiana recently: the Monroe County Community Schools Corporation announced budget cuts earlier this month that would eliminate school librarian positions districtwide. There’s been a trend recently toward having one licensed librarian provide library service to multiple schools in a district with assistants overseeing the individual libraries on the librarian’s days elsewhere, but these budget cuts would eliminate all librarian positions within the district. Mary D’Eliso–IU-Bloomington SLIS grad, former assistant manager of children’s services at Monroe County Public Library, current library media specialist at University Elementary School, and (former?) instructor of Children’s Literature at IU-Bloomington SLIS–started Let Me Think: Adventures in a School Library at the end of January and wrote in an email, “I was thinking that the main crux of our elimination was that people have no idea what actually happens in the modern school library, particularly in areas of teaching and curriculum.” She’s intending for Let Me Think to include lessons, displays, and events.

I mostly think of blogs as tools for aspiring and practicing librarians to find book reviews and get new programming ideas and as an online community for people in the profession, but they can also be public relations tools, showing non-librarians what we’re all about.

March 1, 2010 at 11:53 PM 2 comments