Across the nation, we’re seeing cuts to library budgets at the city, county and state levels. These cuts are resulting in reductions in staff and hours of operation, and branch and library closures:
But more importantly, these cuts are negatively impacting the ability of residents to access the information and resources they need. Libraries have long been leaders in cooperative operational agreements -- sharing collections and delivery services. Long before it was fashionable to trim budget excess and eliminate duplication of services, libraries were leading the way.
We hope Wisconsin communities don’t experience the kinds of drastic cuts that have been reported nationwide, but sitting and hoping is not a course of action we can risk. To avoid drastic library cuts here in Wisconsin, we need you to speak up for your library in particular, and for libraries in general. Over the next few months, we’ll share information that you can use to voice support for libraries. Here’s our first message, and we hope you’ll take a moment to call your state legislators and decision-makers in your community to tell them why you support library service.
Many municipal, county, and state services compete for funding each year, and one of the messages we hear frequently is that “essential community services” need to be funded before everything else.
We believe that the public library is an “essential” service and should be adequately funded. While the circulation of books, DVDs, and audio CDs are still important aspects of modern library service (circulation is up substantially), libraries and librarians are very involved every day helping residents prepare resumes, search for jobs, and submit online job applications.
High-speed Internet access is one of the most popular services offered by today’s public libraries, and it’s vital to be able to use many e-government sites to download forms and instructions, or to enhance one’s education through online courses and tutorials.
State budget funds allocated for library spending amount to about 0.2% of the state budget. About 2% to 3% of statewide municipal spending (all city, village, town and county spending) is allocated for libraries. Figures vary by community, but it’s certain that libraries receive a small portion of local budgets.
It’s vital that we ensure these “essential” services are available for all residents, and we can only do that if people like you become involved and speak up for your library!
To do this week: Find out when candidate forums are being held in your area and make plans to attend.