Don’t Close the Books on Libraries Rally

Please read below the call to action for the Massachusetts Library Association. If you can spare the time, our neighbors to the south could use our help fighting the good fight. Helen

To the library community –

Even if you’re not a librarian in Massachusetts, you’re invited to join the rally. Let’s get those numbers up to show them we mean business!

Rick Taplin
President, New England Library Association

Press Release
Massachusetts Library Association (MLA)
October 22, 2009
Don’t Close the Books on Libraries!

Massachusetts library supporters will gather at the MA State House at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, November 4, 2009 to rally for libraries. Sponsored by the Massachusetts Library Association (MLA), the rally “Don’t Close the Books on Libraries” has been planned in reaction to the devastating cuts to the Commonwealth’s library budgets. MA libraries are struggling to survive an onslaught of budget cuts in municipal and statewide funding at the same time that demand for library services has escalated sharply statewide.

  • The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners’ (MBLC) budget cap for FY2011 is a 16% reduction in total funding from this year (FY2010). This comes at a time when people are relying on library resources more than ever in order to mitigate the negative effects of a depressed economy.
  • MA library use, rising steadily for over a decade, has skyrocketed with the worsening economic recession. Many citizens rely on libraries for access to technology, especially now when so many people have lost jobs and cannot pay for computer and Internet resources.
  • Unemployed citizens rely on library resources for help in obtaining jobs.
  • Public libraries are funded at a statewide average of just 1.2% of municipal expenditures, yet they return much greater value to their communities, providing invaluable educational, cultural and literacy resources to all.
  • Resource sharing of the collections of MA libraries is at an all time high. Public library borrowing in Massachusetts hit an all time high for the 9^th consecutive year in 2008, with more than 57 million items transported across the state through regional delivery services.
  • Our libraries provide access to high quality academic databases that promote the literacy and scholarship essential to students and an informed citizenry.
  • The vast majority of MA libraries belong to networks that facilitate resource sharing and manage the libraries’ online catalogs. Telecommunications funding support is currently insufficient to maintain adequate bandwidth levels due to the record amounts of MA citizens using the Commonwealth’s online library catalogs.
  • Increased network costs not funded at the state level will be passed along to member libraries at a time when they can least afford any increases. Member libraries do not have the budget resources to cope with rising annual membership assessments due to cuts in their budgets at the local level.

Krista McLeod & Jackie Rafferty, Co-Chairs MLA Legislative Committee