Thus far in 2013, the federal budget picture has been quite grim. Since March 1, the United States government has begun to adapt to the harsh reality of across-the-board budget cuts to particular categories of federal spending. This series of cuts—now commonly referred to as the sequestration—were enacted as part of the Budget Control Act [...]
Budgets & Funding
The stock market has hit record highs, and unemployment has reached the lowest level since the recession began. Despite this good news, the library economic environment has not seen commensurate improvement. There continues to be a struggle to find the resources needed to support library collections and services, and conditions remain highly unsettled.
BPL, one of three systems in New York City and the country’s fifth-largest library (by population served), has suffered consistent underfunding of capital needs, with its 59 locations facing a $230 million backlog of deferred maintenance, barely dented by the $15 million annual allotment of capital funding.
Their solution: sell two aging libraries that occupy valuable land, and work with real estate developers to include libraries in residential towers. It’s not uncommon for urban libraries to consider mixed-use buildings, though few face the real estate froth characteristic in Brooklyn.
The Free Library of Philadelphia plans to merge with The Rosenbach Museum & Library, which houses a rare book, fine art, and archival materials collection built around the personal library of noted dealers Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach and his brother Philip. The institutions signed a letter of intent following board approval by each of the organizations on April 16, nearly a year after the Rosenbach first approached the Free Library with the idea.
Courtroom setbacks handed out to two Northern Kentucky library districts within 10 days of each other have placed their ability to collect tax revenue in jeopardy. The litigation stems from six members of the Northern Kentucky Tea Party who launched a legal assault against these libraries’ ability to collect tax money without voter approval. If pursued, the tax implications of these cases could imperil district funding for libraries across the state.
Since Kickstarter launched in 2009, everyone from indie bands to technology developers to non-profit organizations has asked themselves, “Will crowdfunding work for me?” Libraries, which often turn to more civic-minded crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Fundly, are no exception. But the question remains: does it work?
It’s been a surprising and energizing spring for the Washington, DC, library community as Mayor Vincent Gray publicly endorsed two of its top wish-list items during his March 27 budget introduction: a proposed $103 million overhaul of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, the city’s landmark central branch, and a 25 percent bump in total system funding earmarked for keeping every facility open seven days a week.
Filling the Advocacy Gap: How Millions of Dollars Are at Stake on Ballots and What We’re Doing About It | Advocates’ Corner
Regardless of what The West Wing may have told us, elections are always a numbers game. Let’s say your public library serves a community of 10,000 people and you are fielding a $15 million bond measure to build a new library next November. If we run the “national average” numbers for a Congressional election cycle, you will likely have around 7,000 people of voting age in your jurisdiction. Voter registration runs as high as 60 percent for these biennial elections. However, turn out will be as low as 42 percent in a general election. If your bond measure looses by 4 percent, a not unheard of margin, you will have lost by 141 votes. If you are on the primary ballot—where turn out is in the 22 percent range—you lose by just 74 votes. Multiply that by five or by ten for bigger towns and cities and counties and we’re still talking about small numbers of voters.
Writer Stephen King is known for many things: suspenseful storytelling, horror tales, and literary rock band music. But another long-time role is now capturing worldwide attention: library philanthropist. The Bangor Public Library announced last week that Stephen and his wife and fellow author Tabitha King will donate $3 million toward the library’s $9 million renovation, redesign, and capital campaign, as long as the library can find other funds to reach the rest of its goal.
According to the Sunlight Foundation, on March 20 the House Oversight and Government Reform committee green-lighted a bill that would make public presidential library donation records. The bill would require disclosure of all donations over $200, whereas currently no donations are required to be disclosed.