March 16, 2018

Brown Proposes Zero State Funding for California Public Libraries for Second Year in a Row

California Governor Jerry Brown released his 2012-13 budget on January 5, which contains no new state funding for public libraries. The last $16 million in funding for the California Library Services Act, state literacy program, and Public Library Foundation were cut in December 2011, as LJ reported, when the state failed to meet the revenue goals required to merely halve the funding. But Brown’s new budget does not restore any of this funding, so this effectively means that if this budget remains in force, California libraries will receive zero state help for the second year in a row.

In addition, the budget makes a $1.1 million cut to the State Library Administration budget “to reflect a decrease in anticipated administrative workload” resulting from the previous cuts, according to the California Library Association.

The Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance and the equivalent Senate subcommittee will begin examining the budget in March. In the meantime, the CLA plans to lobby state legislators to build library funding back into the state budget.

The governor first proposed a budget containing no library funding whatsoever last year, despite the fact that, according to Paymaneh Maghsoudi, president of the CLA, library funding had already been cut 75 percent under the two previous administrations. The state money is particularly crucial to interlibrary loan and other cooperative programs, and to rural libraries.

While California’s case is more extreme, states across the board are cutting funding for libraries, according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). IMLS’ State Library Survey for fiscal year 2010, which was released on Monday, showed that state library agencies’ revenues fell by 24.1 percent in the previous decade, to $1.08 billion. Some 80.7 percent of revenues to state library agencies come from the states themselves. In 2010, 39 state library agencies experienced a loss in state contributions to revenue from 2009 levels. States hardest hit were Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York, in which there were losses of $14 million or more. One of the largest impacts of declining revenue has been on staff, according to the report. State library agencies employed 2,967 full-time equivalent staff in 2010, a decrease of 6.5 percent from 2009 and part of a decreasing trend since 2005.

Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz ( is Executive Editor of Library Journal.



  1. Earl Richards says:

    Brown is blackmailing Californians. Why does Brown always pick-on the most vulnerable, education and the public services? He should close commercial and corporate tax loopholes, introduce an oil extraction tax, an oil corporation, windfall-profits tax, Chevron made $27 billions in 2011 and paid no federal tax, and trim the bond interest paid to Wall Street. These taxes have to be rolled-back. These budget cuts will prolong the recession.

    • elizabeth shipley says:

      I so sad about the state of the libraries here in California that if I found another state that really invested in libraries I would move in a second. I totally agree with the previous comment that Gov. Brown should go after the big corporations. I think he is totally afraid of them and since they probably fund his campaign, he wants to continue running for governor as many times as legally allowed.
      We need libraries!