May 8, 2009

Uh oh — library's out of scratch


The future of library funding?

The Connecticut Times reports that local libraries are running out of money for new acquisitions, “There is no money left in the book fund,” Sandra Long, Library Director of the Scranton Library told the Times. “We receive about 85 percent of our overall budget from the town and the rest comes largely from fund raising. That includes for the purchase of books and other materials. The economy had its effect on us. We raised several thousand dollars less than last year.”

All those new bestselling hardcovers that folks go to the library for will not be there this year. And Long is making a special fund raising effort to try to fill the budget gap. She is going beyond their yearly December fund raising appeal and reaching out now, to the public, patrons, and previous donors to contribute to their new book fund.

We’ve all seen the news story about how more people are using their public library due to the economic downturn. (The New York Times runs that one every month or so.) But sadly, public funding hasn’t yet recognized the added drain on libraries’ resources. And, private fund raising is not closing all those budget gaps.

But, it’s not all doom and gloom for new books in the library. In Canada, the government of Ontario has given their libraries an extra $15 million dollar boost, as Quill and Quire reported back in February. And the city of Toronto has dedicated it’s piece of the pie to acquiring new books for public school libraries.

Hey, wait a minute. They’re gonna get smarter than us up there. Bake sale anyone?

Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.