Magazine article American Libraries

California Gov. Halves Statewide Library Funding. (News Fronts)

Magazine article American Libraries

California Gov. Halves Statewide Library Funding. (News Fronts)

Article excerpt

Few state budgets have been as harshly affected by the worsening national economy as California's. In order to close an estimated $34.6-billion budget shortfall, Gov. Gray Davis has proposed cutting statewide support of local libraries from the current $52 million to about $24 million. The measures, part of a budget proposal released January 10, are among $20.7 billion in total cuts over the next two years, including $4.5 billion taken from education programs.

To help ease the impact on libraries, Davis asked lawmakers to approve legislation allowing them "to charge user fees to cover administrative costs associated with providing direct or interlibrary loans of materials," the Oakland Tribune reported January 15. The proposal would let libraries charge $1 for a book obtained from within the library's county and $5 for one from another county, Deputy State Librarian Cameron Robertson told the Tribune. The plan met with immediate opposition from librarians. "The idea of these fees violates the fundamental philosophy of public libraries," said Alameda County Librarian Linda Wood. "I think the public would be outraged."

Davis's budget also cuts about 10% in state aid to California State University and the University of California, for a total loss of about $700 million, the Los Angeles Times reported January 11. The effect on the schools' libraries remained to be seen.

Closings averted in Oakland In the wake of Davis's cuts, Oakland City Manager Robert Bobb originally proposed closing seven of the city's 15 library branches. However, although the city's revised budget, released February 4, spares the branches, it eliminates 15 library positions, 11 at the main library. The cuts to the library system's budget, originally $2.1 million, were reduced to $875,000, the Oakland Tribune reported February 5.

"The community came out, and we won," said Ann Katz of Save Oakland Libraries in the February 5 San Francisco Chronicle. "I'm amazed. It's so hard to move bureaucracy." However, Robb warned that future cuts are possible, including rotating branch closures.

Legislature rejects midyear cuts In December, Gov. Davis had proposed a 70% midyear reduction to the state's Public Library Fund after having made an initial cut in September. However, the Legislature rejected the proposal January 28, allowing Ventura County Library officials to cancel service cuts and layoffs that had been planned for mid-February. …

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