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California Libraries Lose State Funding

By Harriet Staff

Big news day all around—there are Giants fans selling copies of today’s NY Post for five dollars on the subway; and even bigger, Prop 8 was just declared unconstitutional by California…good on you, CA!! But let’s not let book news get drowned out. San Francisco’s KALW reported this weekend that California libraries must say goodbye to state funding:

The bad news is that state funding for California libraries has been completely eliminated. There’s not really any good news about that except that it was expected. This past July, state library funding was sliced in half, and there was a trigger amendment attached to the budget that would eliminate state funding for public libraries at midyear if the state’s revenue projections were not met. Needless to say, they weren’t.

Now libraries in the Bay Area, as in the rest of the state, will lose funding for literacy programs, InterLibrary Loans, and miscellaneous expenses such as librarian training programs and books. Libraries in rural areas will be hit the hardest because they receive more state funding than libraries in larger cities with larger budgets.

These cuts are not new. State funding for libraries has been dwindling for the past decade. The Public Library Fund, which provides direct state aid to public libraries for basic service, has never received its full appropriation from the Legislature since it began in 1983 (which was also the end of Jerry Brown’s first stint as governor). State funding lasted a little over twenty years.

The December 2011 monthly report from Berkeley Library Director Donna Corbeil reads, “There will be no immediate impact on the Library as this reduction was anticipated.” Keep your eyes on the word immediate. “We’re still pretty concerned about how this will affect our libraries in the long term,” Corbeil said.

The next month’s report, from January 2012, states, “For the last two years as the state’s budget situation worsened the Library set aside its Public Library Funds receipts as a temporary alternative funding source.”

In the 1999/2000 fiscal year, libraries received $56.8 million from the state. That was a good year. By the 2008/2009 year, libraries were only getting $12.9 million. That was a bad year, but, in retrospect, still pretty good. Libraries now get nothing.

Corbeil hopes that the California Library Association will help local librarians organize a campaign against the elimination in funding but says it’s not up to her to put out a call for action.

Read more about it here.


Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, February 7th, 2012 by Harriet Staff.