January 30, 2015

Hard Times Ahead for the Library of Birmingham

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The award-winning Library of Birmingham (LB), which garnered applause and approval across the U.K. when it was built in 2013, is about to fall on hard times. After opening to great fanfare a little over a year ago, the library has been finding it hard to keep up with costs, citing a lack of private sponsorship and the Birmingham City Council’s (BCC) failure to raise promised money from land sales. Then at the end of 2014 the BCC announced a round of austerity measures that will cut some £72 million in funding for the arts, parks and recreation, care services, cemeteries, and children’s care services for 2015–16. Approximately £1.5 million will be cut from LB’s annual £10 million operating costs, meaning that 100 of the library’s 188 staff could be eliminated, and its hours reduced from 73 to 40 per week.

De Blasio’s Opportunity: It’s time to reinvest in NYC’s branch libraries | Editorial

Rebecca T. Miller

New York City’s libraries get a fair amount of attention, but all too rarely is it directed to the branches. Those neighborhood hubs arguably have the greatest impact and potential, cultivating the essential connection to the community at the most local levels in more than 207 buildings. Unfortunately, according to the Center for an Urban Future, they are also at risk. The time has arrived to embrace a new citywide strategy to deliver excellent library services to all New Yorkers.

Second BiblioTech Coming to Bexar County Housing Development

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Eager to expand the reach of its innovative all-digital library, officials in Bexar County (TX) plan to open a second full-service BiblioTech in June as part of a sprawling public housing development on San Antonio’s west side.

Indianapolis Approves $58 Million in Bonds for Libraries

Indianapolis Public Library Central Branch

Indianapolis Public Library (IPL)’s modernization plan, which involves renovating five branches, relocating five others, and building one brand new facility, will get started next month after area lawmakers voted on Nov. 10 to approve $58.5 million in bond issues over the next six years.

Library Removes Referendum Signs from Branches Hosting Early Voting

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Acting on a complaint from a Mecklenburg County (NC) commissioner, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (CML) officials last week removed signs providing information about a referendum on a proposed sales tax increase, which would benefit the library, from all 14 branches serving as early voting locations.

New Proposed Legislation Requires Public Disclosure for New York City Libraries

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In the wake of accusations that suspended Queens Library (QL) president and CEO Thomas W. Galante mishandled library funds, Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (D–Queens) proposed legislation on October 21 that would require all three of New York’s public library systems to publicly disclose how their money is spent.

San Antonio, Bexar County Debate Library Funding

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San Antonio, TX, made library headlines when it opened BiblioTech, the nation’s first all-digital library, which turned one year old only a few weeks ago. Now it could do so again, but for a less positive reason: a city-county financial dispute that some officials are warning could eventually result in the loss of library privileges for as many as 400,000 residents.

New Knight Foundation News Challenge Spotlights Libraries

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Since 2006, the Knight News Challenge has encouraged innovators to respond to open calls on a series of themes—past challenge topics have included networks, open government, and strengthening the Internet. On Sept. 10 the Knight Foundation opened the most recent News Challenge: How might we leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities?

Center for an Urban Future Re-Envisions New York’s Branch Libraries

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From the Andrew Carnegie–era temples of learning to the small cinderblock “Lindsay boxes” built during Mayor John Lindsay’s administration from 1966–1973, New York City’s 207 library branches are as varied as its population. And like much of the city, they are feeling the crunch of budget cuts and neglect.

LA County Library Restores Lost Hours

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County of Los Angeles Public Library officials are restoring service hours to all the libraries that previously saw their hours reduced owing to 2009-2010 budget cuts. This comes after the Board of Supervisors approved this year’s $178 million library budget, an increase of $3.6 million.