The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) is celebrating a funding increase of $7.6 million dollars. On the weekend of June 20 the 84th Texas Legislature increased TSLAC’s appropriation for 2016–17, which includes resources to increase access to the TexShare and TexQuest database programs, and to launch the Texas Digital Archive (TDA), which will preserve and make available born-digital archival documents of the state government. In addition, TSLAC—which oversees statewide library and reading-related disability programs, as well as maintaining the Texas State Archives—gained funds necessary for staff salary adjustments and to implement a new automated accounting and payroll system.
At the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference, ALA’s United for Libraries division presented a well-received session, Getting a Bigger Piece of the Pie: Effective Communication with Funders and Policy Makers. A panel of three experienced fundraisers talked about what is and isn’t working in their ongoing mission to help support their libraries, offering a range of good advice to library leaders and fundraisers at every level.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on June 22 an early agreement for the FY16 budget, which includes an additional $39 million for the city’s three library systems across all five boroughs. The funding will enable universal six-day service throughout the 217 branches across the city’s three systems—the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), New York Public Library (NYPL), and Queens Library (QL)—as well as extended hours at many locations, and will translate in to approximately 500 new jobs. In addition, the de Blasio administration has committed to a $300 million ten-year capital budget for libraries.
(Editor’s Note: Virginia’s attorney general announced June 20 that Sweet Briar College will remain open for the 2015–16 academic year. The alumnae group Saving Sweet Briar has pledged to raise $12 million toward operating costs, and the college will release restrictions on $16 million in endowments. At least 13 members of the current board of 23 will be replaced by trustees, and the board will then appoint a new president. See the Chronicle of Higher Education for more details about the agreement.)
Facing a $1 million shortfall while planning the FY16 budget, the city council of St. Helena, CA, made several swift decisions. One of the most controversial was letting go of St. Helena Public Library (SHPL) director Jennifer Baker, who was released without cause on June 8. Although Baker, SHPL’s director since 2007, had submitted a proposal for a series of cuts to meet a proposed $300,000 library budget reduction that had met with approval in a meeting of the library board earlier the same day, city manager Jennifer Phillips moved to terminate Baker instead.
The San Antonio Public Library (SAPL) and BiblioTech, the all-digital library operated by Bexar County and also located in San Antonio, have reached an agreement that will let the county reduce its payments to the city by hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, instead reinvesting that cash in digital content that will be accessible to users of both library systems. The compromise marks the resolution of a funding fight that stretches back to last year, when city officials complained that the county was not footing its fair share of the bill for library services.
The legislative budget season triggers a tense cycle for libraries, and this year is no different. State library funding comes under attack, and library advocates mount a defense. Where wisdom prevails, the lines are upheld or even increased, bolstering the key infrastructure libraries bring to our communities. Where short-term thinking trumps strategic insight, the lines get trimmed and trimmed, gaining a relatively minor lift to the state’s bottom line while putting at risk small but significant programs that interconnect our valuable public library resources—and serve as a critical conduit for federal funds to reinforce service.
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.