Florida Library Funding

I just got an e-mail from the Florida Library Association. Below is the main part of the text. State funding on library programs will be decided over the next week by budget conferees, who are responsible for negotiating House and Senate budget positions and developing a budget to send to Governor Crist. A list of budget conferees, with contact information, is attached to this email. If your Representative and/or Senator are budget conferees, it is particularly important that you contact them and seek their support for library programs. Below is the current status of House and Senate recommendations for library program funding. Please review this information and CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS AND COMMUNICATE YOUR POSITION ON STATE FUNDING FOR LIBRARIES. STATE AID TO PUBLIC LIBRARIES GRANTS House Appropriations Bill HB5001 – $30,670,289 ($1.33 million cut from FY06/07) Senate Appropriations Bill SB2800 – $31,999,233 (same funding as FY06/07) Contact members of the Conference Committee to increase State Aid to $41,999,233 as recommended by FLA PUBLIC LIBRARY CONSTRUCTION GRANTS House Appropriations Bill HB5001- $0 Senate Appropriations Bill SB2800 – $10.5 million Contact members of the Conference Committee to award $13,500,000 in order to fund all pending construction applications as recommended by FLA LIBRARY COOPERATIVE GRANTS House Appropriations Bill HB5001 – $1,200,000 Senate Appropriations Bill SB2800 – $2,400,000 Contact members of the Conference Committee to support the Senate and FLA recommendations of $2.4 million COMMUNITY LIBRARIES IN CARING GRANTS House Appropriations Bill HB5001 – $100,000 Senate Appropriations Bill SB2800 – $100,000 Contact members of the Conference Committee to support $200,000 as recommended by the FLA You may notice the key number above is the the fact the House appropriated $0 dollars for new library construction this year. In Florida, qualifying projects are awarded up to $500,000 in state funding, so without looking at the list, this probably puts 21 expansion or new library buildings in jeopardy. For a little more background on what is going on in the Florida Legislature:
bq.The Florida Senate unanimously passed its bipartisan property tax overhaul package without debate Thursday, setting up negotiations with a House split mainly along party lines on a key part of its very different plan. That element is a proposed state constitutional amendment (HJR 7089) that would trade property tax relief on primary homes, known as homesteads, for sales tax increases. The Senate plan has no such tax swap. – “Senate Unanimously Passes Tax Overhaul Plan(Senate Unanimously Passes Tax Overhaul Plan)”:http://www.nbc6.net/news/12499192/detail.html The ironic thing is that both houses are firmly controlled by the Republican Party and have been for years. All we can hope for right now is that the Senate version is the one that gets through.

Bushnell Minimum Staffing

bq.City Council member Dale Swain questioned the tentative salaries requested for several employees Monday evening during the 2006-2007 budget workshop. One of Swain’s concerns was that the city was paying approximately $100,000 in salaries to four library employees. He said he was unaware if any had degrees or certification in library science. Other council members pointed out that the Bushnell library system has five employees and the library is open six days a week. According to Swain, however, even if the library were open 60 hours a week, it could operate with one full-time employee and one part-timer, rather than five. – “Patricia Steele(Bushnell councilman questions library salary expense)”:http://www.thevillagesdailysun.com/articles/2006/08/30/news/news02.txt According to the “2005 Florida Library Directory with Statistics(http://dlis.dos.state.fl.us/bld/research_office/2005LibraryDirectory/index.cfm)”:http://dlis.dos.state.fl.us/bld/research_office/2005LibraryDirectory/index.cfm, the “Bushnell Public Library(Library Services – Locations, Sumter County, Florida)”:http://sumtercountyfl.gov/libraries/locations.htm serves a population of 2,265, has 4,500 square feet of space, has a collection of 9,768 volumes, is visted 22,453 times annually, and circulates 26,028 items. How someone could think that they could do that with less staff than a moderately well-run convenience store is a complete mystery to me?

More Money and More Freedom

bq.James McBride, author of the best-selling memoir The Color of Water, said that the public must “demand that government give librarians — who are the last line of the defense of reason in this society — more money and more freedom.” That remark drew a warm response from the audience, which Mr. McBride acknowledged: “I see the librarians out there going, ‘Yeah.'” – “Scott McLemee( Literary Reading Is Declining Faster Than Before, Arts Endowment’s New Report Says)”:http://chronicle.com/free/2004/07/2004070901n.htm

Gates Usage

bq.For the library, supplying patrons with access to the Internet and the Web has become central to its mission, an updating of its long tradition of providing information free to the public. The transition has come quickly. In 1996, 28 percent of all libraries had PC’s for public access to the Internet. Now, 95 percent of libraries offer Internet access. The Gates foundation accelerated the trend. There are now more than 120,000 Internet-connected PC’s for public use in municipal libraries nationwide. Since 1998, the foundation has installed or paid for more than 47,000 PC’s. The raw numbers somewhat overstate how many of the foundation-sponsored machines are currently in use. (In Terrebonne Parish, for example, the 35 Gates foundation computers have been replaced by newer PC’s purchased by the library.) – “Steve Lohr(Libraries Wired, and Reborn)”:http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/22/technology/circuits/22gate.html?ex=1397966400&en=5b78d7eb1987a6b9&ei=5007&partner=google While most have had a RAM upgrade and many have had an operating system change, we are still using nearly all of our original workstations. As John Dvorak used to point out constantly, how much “processing power(Slowdown Lowdown)”:http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,163226,00.asp do you actually need to surf the web? A Pentium III 500 with 256 MB of RAM does just fine for our patrons (especially those not used to broadband level speeds).

Denver Taxing District

Rick Ashton, Director of the “Denver Public Library(Denver Public Library)”:http://www.denver.lib.co.us/, “wants(Bound, determined to fund books)”:http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36~53~1885498,00.html to create a special taxing district to give the library a consistent source of funding outside the whims and budget stresses of the current process. Mayor John Hickenlooper is less than “enthusiastic(Denver Librarian Pushes For Library Tax District)”:http://news4colorado.com/localnews/local_story_012112954.html over the idea thinking that it might lessen voter enthusiasm for other projects.

Library Funding Issues

Library funding has been especially hard hit lately. The “New York Public Library(New York Public Library)”:http://www.nypl.org/ is “launching(Library To Raise Emergency Funding)”:http://www.nynewsday.com/news/education/nyc-library0801,0,2313346.story an $18 Million Emergency Fund-Raising Drive. As noted in the article, the effects are bring felt nationwide. A little closer to home (like the county due north of where I am sitting), the future of the “Polk County Library Cooperative(Polk County Library Cooperative)”:http://www.pclc.lib.fl.us/ is in severe “jeopardy(Polk Library Budget May Be Cut in Half)”:http://www.theledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20030808/NEWS/308080351/1039. Another nearby country (due west) has had their acquisitions budget reduced to zero. In Florida, counties and cooperatives receive funding through a state matching program. When local contributions are reduced, state are as well (after a two year delay). It may be many years before some of these institutions recover.

Minneapolis Library Funding

“If there ever is a grand-opening ceremony for a new Minneapolis library, we’ll need a massive, steel-enforced podium to hold all the people who will want to take credit for the place. But now that the old library is mostly rubble and the new library has the hazy look of a dream, it’s almost impossible to find anyone who will say, ‘My fault. Should have paid attention to the red flags.'” – Doug Grow