A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Friday, March 26, 2010

State Aid Cuts to Libraries Yield Little but Harm to Cherished Institutions

I Love NJ Libraries says that Governor Christie's budget proposal would cut $10.4 million (74%) in state aid to our public libraries in New Jersey and cause a loss of $4.5 million in federal matching funds. The cuts would cause more than half of public libraries to lose access to the Internet and many would lose their websites and email services. Public library customers would lose access to EBSCOHOST and other useful electronic databases and web services, which are currently subscribed to at a significant group discount by your local library.

According to NJ Today, 250 libraries that receive their Internet service through the state library would have to figure something else out, and the 100 or so libraries whose email services funnel through the state system would also be out of luck. New Jersey's inter-library loan system, a valuable service that allows patrons to borrow books from other libraries in the state, would be shut down in June. The most devastating effect of the cuts would be the loss of electronic databases, which are often used by students to help with their homework. They might not use these services at the library, but you can be sure they avail themselves of them from their computers at home and at school. Ask them. To add insult to injury, state-mandated continuing education for librarians will no longer be funded.

Library Journal points out that New Jersey is not alone in this struggle to keep library services viable. Politicians are attempting the elimination of state aid to libraries in Florida, even though such aid has already been slashed by a third since 2001. The Public Library of Charlotte and Mechlenburg County (North Carolina) is bracing for over 50% less funding from the county, which provides 92% of library operating moneies. With plans to cut $17 million out of the current $31 million library budget, the PLCMC system is looking at 140 employee layoffs and the closing of 12 of its 24 locations.

NJ Knowledge Initiative, which provides many online services to NJ public libraries, is on the chopping block. As of the end of June, you will lose access to the following services:
  • ReferenceUSA:  Detailed information on more than 14 million U.S. businesses, 210 million U.S. residents, 855,000 U.S. health care providers, 1.5 million Canadian businesses, and 12 million Canadian households. More than three million customers world wide use their products and services for direct marketing, telemarketing, market research, sales lead generation, sales planning, customer analysis and credit decisions. Latest update includes connecting to families and businesses that have recently moved to your town. More than 300,000 movers are updated each week. 
  • Business Source® Premier: This is the industry's most used business research database, providing the full text for more than 2,300 journals. Business Source Premier provides full text back to 1965, and searchable cited references back as far as 1998. Journal ranking studies reveal that Business Source Premier is superior to the competition in full text coverage in all disciplines of business, including marketing, management, MIS, POM, accounting, finance and economics. Additional full text, non-journal content includes market research reports, industry reports, country reports, company profiles and SWOT analyses. 
  • Regional Business News™ is a supplemental database for customers of Business Source Premier. With daily updates, Regional Business News provides comprehensive full text for regional business publications (including titles from Crain Communications). Regional Business News has full text for more than 50 sources.
  • Academic Search Premier: Perfect for homework, business and technical research and general use, Academic Search Premier contains unmatched full-text coverage in biology, chemistry, engineering, physics, psychology, religion & theology, etc., as well as a broad selection of popular periodicals covering current events and general interest.
The NJ state budget is not the only library funding at risk at the moment, either. NJ Assembly Bill A-2555 amends the wording of  R.S. 40:54-8 to eliminate the current funding formula and leave the funding of our libraries to the discretion of local municipalities. The bill would even remove the authority of our library's board of trustees by striking the words "or appropriate board" from the current wording. You would have thought that stealing local public library surpluses through the introduction of A-1265 in January 2008 would have sated them for at least a little while!

Like I have said before, this is only the beginning. Please support your local public library, your local public school teachers, and speak up against cuts to public transportation subsidies.


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