Thursday, March 10, 2011

California Libraries Under Attack!

Can the economy get any worse?!

Library usage is up all over the state (and country), yet our state politicians are trying to cut funding to our libraries. WE CAN'T LET THAT HAPPEN!!

From the Friends of the Atascadero Library (my town):

Library supporters throughout California are protesting Governor Brown's proposed 2011-12 California State Budget, now under consideration in the Legislature.  The governor has proposed complete elimination of state funding for library services and programs, including literacy programs, the Public Library Foundation, and the California Library Services Act (CLSA).  The library line items currently represent just $30 million – just over one-tenth of one percent of the state’s estimated $25 billion budget shortfall.

The cuts represent a potentially devastating blow to San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara County Libraries, since the CLSA helps fund the Black Gold Cooperative Library System, a regional co-op made up primarily of libraries in the two counties. 

"Black Gold’s computerized operating system is like an umbrella under which library users can search for and request books and other materials, check out books, download audio files and eBooks, and monitor their library accounts," notes Christine Johnson, president of the Morro Bay Friends of the Library. "All the libraries in the Black Gold system -- from Santa Paula to Paso Robles -- share books, DVDs, CDs and the online book catalog, in what has proven to be an efficient and money-saving way."

The Governor’s proposal to eliminate all CLSA funding would severely curtail these vital services, possibly requiring San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties to install new and more costly local circulation systems to replace the one currently supplied by Black Gold.
The California Library Services Act supports universal access to information by enabling the sharing of books and other library materials during times of scarcity.  Elimination of CLSA funding would likely result in:
  • Drastic reduction – perhaps even closure -- of the Black Gold Cooperative Library System
  • Severe cuts to services at all branches in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties
  • Significant increase in fees to request books from a library branch other than one's own
  • Loss or reduction of delivery of items from one library to another
  • Severe reduction of access to new books currently shared among many branches
  • Severe reduction of access to audiobooks and eBooks
  • New library fees for services to residents outside the service area of a branch library
  • Greater expense for each county to purchase online reference resources by itself rather than as part of the Black Gold regional library network.
Public libraries have helped make America a strong and prosperous democracy by providing free and equal access to information for all.  Even in "the digital age," libraries and literacy are essential to an informed citizenry.

Please write or call Governor Brown. Call your Assembly member or Senator and ask them to speak favorably about the library issue in their respective caucuses. Remind him or her of the importance of these library programs to you and your neighbors! Speak up now and protect our libraries!

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