Managing our library budgets

The Bottom Line

ISSN: 0888-045X

Article publication date: 1 June 2000




Fitzsimmons, E. (2000), "Managing our library budgets", The Bottom Line, Vol. 13 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Managing our library budgets

Keywords Public finance, Local government, Taxation, Academic libraries, Public libraries, School libraries

Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania announced that he has included over $123.5 million for reading, literacy, and libraries in his 2000-01 budget proposal. This represents an increase of approximately 13 per cent. In making his announcement Ridge said, "I don't believe that in the public-service community there is an organization that stretches a public dollar further and maximizes the benefit of the investment better than the libraries". The funding just for libraries would increase by 31 per cent, to $62.3 million. This would include $7.2 million for the Access Pennsylvania program, which provides a statewide library card. Additional funding will support adding some 400 elementary school libraries and other public libraries to the statewide library catalog. The proposal also includes $25 million for the second year of a children's literacy program and $17.9 million for adult and family literacy. The state legislature will have to approve the proposal, which builds on Ridge's successful budget from last year.

On January 4, shortly after the statewide anti-tax measure I-695 took effect, the Edmonds (Wash.) City Council voted to terminate the city's $1-million contract with the Sno-Isle Regional Library System. This action could result in termination of library service in Edmonds next January unless residents vote to be annexed into the Sno-Isle taxing district. Edmonds lost $1.4 million as a result of I-695. On the other hand, Mayor Gary Haakenson noted that if the annexation is approved, it would probably result in the property-tax revenues going toward library services being higher than what the city now pays Sno-Isle. "We are not trying to get rid of the library", said Haakenson. "All we're doing is finding another way to fund it". Edmonds is the only one of eight cities contracting with the regional system to announce a cancellation of the agreement.

Chatham College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has signed an 18-month contract with library systems and services incorporated (LSSI) to operate its Jennie King Mellon Library. LSSI claims that Chatham, a small, private women's college with about 1,000 students, is the first college in the US to outsource management of its library. According to a 1 December company press release, LSSI plans to revise the organizational structure of the library and make the library the focus of technology and research by uniting librarians and information-technology professionals under a newly created department of information services. Key to this restructuring is the combination of the reference and the instructional-technology departments, according to LSSI Chief Operating Officer Frank A. Pezzanite.

Anthony G. Marchione, Baltimore County Schools Superintendent, has proposed spending $10 million over the next three years to update the collections and bring the system closer to compliance with state standards. According to the Baltimore Sun, school officials reported that 21 of the system's 23 high school libraries contain books and items outdated by county standards. The system is also behind in per-student funding, with 1997 expenditures at $2.77 per student, compared to the state average of $12.24. Library Media Specialist Beth Shapiro told the Sun that in recent years, schools have focused on purchasing new computers to run CD-ROM encyclopedias and access the Internet and neglected the book collections. Shapiro reported that at her school half of the nonfiction titles, including science, technology, and geography, have copyrights from the 1960s.

Vancouver (BC) public library, which includes 21 branches, will be able to stay open despite a $150,000 budget shortfall, thanks to a novel source of funding. Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest film, The Sixth Day, will be shooting several scenes at the downtown central library, and the payment to the library will cover the deficit. In 1999 and 1997, the city was forced to close the libraries for one week, and the library will probably have to shut down in 2001 unless additional funds are received. Not everything with the movie production is going smoothly, however. While one of the scenes was being filmed on the campus of nearby Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, BC) exhaust fumes leaked into the library, forcing an early closing that evening. According to University Librarian Lynn Copeland, the school has been promised compensation for the disruption and those funds will be put toward a service to benefit students. All in all, The Sixth Day will likely be a popular movie in the Vancouver area.

"Made in Hollywood", a millennium benefit held on new year's eve at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, raised over $2 million for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles' 20th Century Fund for Children and Reading. After announcing that the event had raised over $1 million, Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan surprised everyone at the event by announcing that Universal Studios Chairman Emeritus Lew Wasserman (honored that evening as "Man of the century") had contributed an additional million to the library fund. Among the highlights of the gala were a millennium feast created by chef Wolfgang Puck and Spago catering, music of the Frank Sinatra Orchestra led by Frank Sinatra Jr and a countdown to midnight led by California Governor Gray Davis and First Lady Sharon Davis. The event culminated with Mayor Riordan, his wife, and Tonight Show host Jay Leno lighting the Hollywood sign.

An ongoing feud between the Newport Beach (Calif.) Library board of trustees and the library foundation culminated on 18 January in the trustees' demanding that the foundation managers vacate their offices in the library building and turn over the $1.5 million in its fund to the trustees. The Newport Beach City Council offered the foundation temporary offices in the municipal building. The 26 January Los Angeles Times reported that the board wants to separate completely from the foundation, take control of the monies it has raised, and prohibit the foundation from using the library's name. City attorney Bob Burnham, on the other hand, maintains that the foundation must be managed independently to maintain its non-profit status. The city council had hoped after talks collapsed in mid-January to resume with the services of a mediator. The chairman of the board of trustees, however, refused to continue the discussions.

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