On a long Election Night filled with tension and political upset, 79 libraries across the country had referenda on the ballot. The news for libraries was more good than bad. At press time, 54 had recorded wins and 12 losses, with the remainder either not applicable—representing votes to leave a district, for instance—or still too close to call.
In this day and age, with libraries forced to defend their funding either to the voters every election cycle or local municipal leaders every budget season, it is essential for Friends groups to climb the ladder of library advocacy and see themselves as citizens who stand up for their libraries. For some, this will be a natural transition; for others, it is a total redefinition of what it means to be a Friend.
At her core, LJ Mover & Shaker Ludmila (Mila) Pollock is an archivist. As the executive director, library and archives at the Genentech Center for the History of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, she has been at the forefront of preserving the annals of scientific breakthroughs—through the stories of the people who made them.
The Massachusetts Center for the Book was re-funded on July 30 thanks to emergency sessions of the state House and Senate, after Governor Charlie Baker had completely defunded the Center and slashed budgets for several other educational and cultural organizations. Funding to the Massachusetts Cultural Center was also restored, as was the Local Aid to Public Libraries line item.
Only days after a definitive victory at the polls, the New Orleans library landscape was making news again—but this time it was the Foundation, not the library itself, and the news was not good. On May 5, an investigative report by correspondent David Hammer for local New Orleans station WWL-TV revealed that between 2012 and 2013 Irvin Mayfield and Ronald Markham, who then served on the board of the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) Foundation as chair and president, respectively, gave the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) at least $863,000 in funding originally made to the NOPL Foundation. At that time both Mayfield and Markham were also drawing annual salaries of $100,000 apiece from the nonprofit NOJO, Mayfield as its founder and artistic director and Markham as president and CEO.
A $600,000 budget cut will force Connecticut’s Hartford Public Library (HPL) to eliminate 10 jobs and curtail Saturday hours at most branches, but swift intervention by Mayor Luke Bronin prevented an even steeper reduction that would have left the system with no choice but to close three of its 10 branches.
For the second year in a row, the proposed New York City capital budget provided a healthy allocation for the city’s three library systems. In a handshake agreement announced on June 8, Mayor Bill de Blasio—along with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Finance Committee Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, and members of New York City Council—presented the proposed $82.1 billion capital budget, which included $43 million in funding for New York’s three library systems. The funding restores and baselines an extra $21 million for libraries in FY17.