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Brown's proposed budget eliminates state funding for public libraries

Lapl_central_west

New California Gov. Jerry Brown, facing tremendous budget problems, has proposed a statewide budget that eliminates state spending on public libraries entirely. Those cuts amount to around $30 million.

If Brown's budget is passed as is, it will eliminate state funding for the Public Library Foundation, Transaction Based Reimbursement and the California Library Literacy and English Acquisition Service. Public libraries across the state also receive funding from other sources.

A response to Brown's proposed budget by California Library Assn. President Paymaneh Maghsoudi has been posted on the organization's website.

The proposed cuts unveiled by the governor will not only jeopardize library hours, staff positions, and the availability of books and materials, they will also potentially dismantle the cooperative system of borrowing and loaning books, known as Transaction Based Reimbursement (TBR), that has existed statewide for over three decades. Incidentally, a cut of this magnitude to the TBR could make the state ineligible for the federal match that is a part of this program. Lastly, in 2007 alone, more than 20,000 adult learners participated in the state literacy program, benefitting native English speaking adults who have never learned to read, or the K-12 schooling system has failed them. The elimination of the state funding for this program would be truly heartbreaking for individuals and families who desperately need this assistance.

While state funding for libraries has decreased, door counts continue to rise at an amazing rate for most libraries and library branches, and staffs are stretched to capacity. In this difficult economy, libraries are a safety net for many people who have lost their home or jobs and are using their local library to write resumes, attend workshops on credit repair, and utilize free access to high speed Internet to look for work or do research. Public libraries assist our K-12 school children with the necessary tools to help expand their education, such as literacy programs, Homework Help centers, books for school assignments, etc. The timing couldn't be worse for the governor's proposed $30-million cut to public libraries."

Library Journal reports that library funding has suffered in the past in the California Legislature. "The Public Library Fund, which provides direct state aid to public libraries for basic service, has never received its full appropriation from the Legislature, but this cut would represent a new low. In its first year, 1983, the state appropriation was $6 million, and has varied from $56.8 million (80 percent of full funding) in 1999/00 to $12.9 million (12 percent of full funding) in 2008/09."

Brown's office has estimated that California faces a $25.4-billion budget shortfall. Brown says he's looking wherever he can to save money -- he's even ordered 48,000 California employees to return their state-paid cellphones. But he's also had to propose significant cuts: community redevelopment agencies, welfare programs, and the University of California and California State University systems are among those hardest hit. "We understand fully California's dire budget situation and the challenges of the recessionary economy," CLA's Maghsoudi writes, "but the public libraries have done more than their share to assist with the budget deficit over the years by absorbing painful cuts."

ALSO:

Don't go to L.A.'s public libraries Sunday. Or Monday.

Librarians speak against cuts -- after a long wait -- at L.A. City Council budget meeting

Libraries: a bigger source of DVDs than Netflix

The tenuous state of L.A.'s public libraries

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: The Los Angeles Public Library's central branch in downtown Los Angeles. Credit: Carolyn Kellogg / Los Angeles Times

 

 
Comments () | Archives (12)

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We're going to need a massive community of qualified volunteers to help us through this crunch.

I hope, as part of the new budget program, which we in California sorely need, the governor's office creates and designs an efficient volunteer program that helps us help ourselves.

For example, well educated and/or well read individuals (like me) who value libraries, books and education might be willing and even enthusiastic to have concrete volunteer tasks that help support libraries and library programs.


Joanna Poppink, MFT
Los Angeles psychotherapist
author: Healing Your Hungry Heart, 08/11 Conari Press

While the private sector recoils at the idea of governments being in debt and agencies and institutions which subsist only from government funding, it has been slow to step up to the plate and replace that funding from its own pocket.

As the other commenter here calls to the individual for volunteer activity, I would suggest that the private sector (both individuals, families and businesses) come forward with committed funding, endowments and memorials which support institutions which previously depended on government funds. The reward of tax benefits to businesses who make these contributions would certainly encourage their participation and could be structured to not adversely effect the bottom line for the government.

The library is a wonderful haven, a veritable sactuary, to many souls. Let's support it with relatively religious fervor and generosity.

I really enjoyed this article and liked how it represented the truth behind what libraries bring to people and communities. Libraries are a lifeline that serves so many purposes. As the economy has changed, the need for libraries and the services they offer are needed. The Hollywood division holds resume-writing classes which are beyond helpful. Each branch offers so many great resources to the people.

Let's not forget the validty of learning and growth. Those libraries are not vacant, any day of the week (that's it's open)I see full libraries of reading, growing, and trying to better themselves. It's definitely going to take the help of volunteers to keep libraries going

What year is it?


What is this internet thing....I can access the library of Congress with the internet?

Technology changes things....step up and adapt or be left behind

Brown should totally cut state funding for these library cows who insist on keeping bankers' hours and closing Sundays--the exact times the Public could visit them. Plus, local people can volunteer if the funds are cut to keep them open as reading clubs. This will take a culture shift away from bureaucracy to community control and staffing of volunteers. Sorry, but libraries are meant to serve the public when the overwrought public can actually get there; not the preferred hours of this culture of entitlement. Those days are over, and we will be better for it.

Cut library funding, cut education funding, keep the electorate dumb and dumber. Thomas Jefferson's informed electorate seems destined to disappear shortly.

We've been able to help many people search for jobs. They use computers for searching, writing letters and resumes and filling out applications. Many people do not own computers. Books on these topics are readily available here as well as newspapers containing want ads and tips on job hunting. Libraries are free,non-discriminating and staffed with caring people.

In response to Mike and Michael Watson --

First, Mike: Yes, there is this ridiculous and fantastic thing called the internet, but it requires something called a computer. Not everyone has the latter, and libraries provide access to them so people can get to the internet.

Now, Michael Watson -- My local library is open until 9pm Monday through Thursday. Not exactly banker's hours. Friday and Saturday are, yes, but that's only because of budget cuts over the years. My very first job was at that same library 13 years ago. I stayed until 930pm every night that I worked save for Sunday. Really, the only reason that a library goes "banker's hours" is specifically because of budget cuts.

Libraries should not only be necessities, but also cherished places. I genuinely don't know where I'd be without my local library. As an avid bookworm, I try to give back by donating the books that I've bought to them in hopes that someone will enjoy one of them as much as I had.

Governor Brown, I was born and raised in California and it was a delightful place to be raised. I would like the same for my grandchildren. What are you thinking????? Cut administrative costs, cut anything but not the libraries. Cut sports but our children need libraries.

@Mike. I'm guessing you haven't been in a library in at least a decade, likely longer. Library technologies (at least where funding is available) are way ahead of the curve. The library I work at even checks out laptops to patrons, has free wifi (for people who may no longer be able to afford wifi/internet at home or don't want to pay to sit in a Starbucks), offers computer training basics for folks just getting first time access to technologies, utilizes a range of web 2.0 to facilitate user access, networks with multiple state libraries through a massive database to facilitate rapid interlibrary loan, etc.

The article didn't quote the full statement of the California Library Association, but this last paragraph is good perspective on the importance libraries serve, particularly during economically tough times:

"While state funding for libraries has decreased, door counts continue to rise at an amazing rate for most libraries and library branches, and staffs are stretched to capacity. In this difficult economy, libraries are a safety net for many people who have lost their home or jobs and are using their local library to write resumes, attend workshops on credit repair, and utilize free access to high speed Internet to look for work or do research. Public libraries assist our K-12 school children with the necessary tools to help expand their education, such as literacy programs, Homework Help centers, books for school assignments, etc. The timing couldn't be worse for the Governor's proposed $30 million cut to public libraries."

One wishes that the sole enterprise of capitalism would be to get more libraries opened

Webster Public Library has wonderful people who are very competent at their jobs and are always willing to assist patrons!!!


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