The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (KF) kicked off the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in Boston on the morning of January 10 with a session announcing its second News Challenge on Libraries. The challenge, which launches February 24, will address the question “How might libraries serve 21st century information needs?” Winners will receive a share of $3 million in funding toward their projects. In addition, a select number of projects will be considered for the Knight Prototype Fund.
Faced with a massive budget cut expected to take effect this summer, Kuskokwim Consortium Library (KCL) Director Cheri Boisvert Janz is brainstorming ways to maintain services in this remote western Alaskan town of Bethel, a community she said needs its library for a lot more than borrowing books or DVDs.
Public libraries in the United States have traditionally relied on local support for the vast majority of their revenue. While this is still largely true, the funding landscape is getting more diverse, and there is a greater need for libraries to be increasingly creative when it comes to balancing base funding with new sources. Money allocated at the local level rarely stretches far enough to cover staffing, operations, collection development, and programming, let alone experimentation to invent or test innovative new services. Local funding is also subject to political winds as administrations change.
Library officials across Kentucky exhaled with relief on Friday, March 20, after the state Court of Appeals ruled that systems in two northern counties correctly and legally set their annual tax rate based on a decades-old law that allows revenue to be raised without voter approval. The decision reversed two lower-court verdicts and means the Campbell and Kenton County systems will not have to roll back their tax rates 35 years or more, which would have triggered staff layoffs, branch closures, and other draconian cuts.
Strapped for operating cash, the Jeannette Public Library (JPL) in Westmoreland County, PA, located less than an hour east of Pittsburgh, has been closed since Thanksgiving. A sign on the library door informs patrons that JPL plans to reopen on January 5, but library officials said a still-precarious financial situation will make that a difficult promise to keep.
As the University of Connecticut (UConn) library system braces for a $1.2 million budget cut in 2016, a reduction that will mean the loss of 7.5 FTEs among other disruptions in service, a group of concerned faculty members say they are heartened by the administration’s apparent openness toward exploring new ways of plugging a revenue gap that shows little sign of abating.
When the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) completed its recent 14-year Branch Library Improvement Program (BLIP), the city Controller’s Office released an impact study detailing the economic benefits and returns on investment that the program stimulated throughout the city. The 68-page report, “Reinvesting and Renewing for the 21st Century: A Community and Economic Benefits Study of San Francisco’s Branch Library Improvement Program,” revealed that for every dollar invested in BLIP, San Francisco realized a return of between $5.19 and $9.11.
In early May, LJ reported that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed executive budget was set to cut $10 million in funding from New York City library systems. Library advocates rallied against the Mayor’s prospective cuts, and in June there was a massive turnaround—for FY16, the Mayor’s announced budget ultimately included a cumulative $43 million for Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and Queens Library (QL).
When the University of Akron (UA), OH, revealed plans on July 27 to restructure the University of Akron Press (UAP) and terminate its three full-time employees, the decision was met with a mixture of dismay and confusion. As part of a campus-wide effort to trim the university’s $367 million FY15 budget by $40 million before the beginning of the fall semester—which included cutting more than 200 other jobs as well as the school’s baseball program—UAP editorial and design coordinator Amy Freels and print manufacturing and digital production coordinator Carol Slatter were given two weeks’ notice. Press director Thomas Bacher was told to take two weeks’ paid leave, after which he would serve out the remainder of his contract through January 2016. Associate professor of English Jon Miller was named transitional director of the press.