Bill Berry has! (And the Wisconsin Library Association and Wisconsin Education Media & Technology Association thank him for helping to set the stage for this year's Library Legislative Day.]
Link to Berry's January 4 column in the Capital Times, "Keep the library lights burning".
Excerpt: In these tough times, it comes down to defining essential services. By almost any measure, and especially in the current economy, libraries are essential to many people. Folks need to tell that to officials who are making budget decisions.
The wave of budget cuts hasn’t hit Wisconsin communities as hard as those in other states, but several local libraries have cut bookmobile and branch services. On the other hand, Madison residents will soon benefit from a much-needed, $37 million new central library.
But library advocacy groups predict more cuts across the country. Privatization is being pushed as another alternative.
Wisconsin communities fund libraries in a variety of ways, including property taxes, some state revenues and support from patrons, foundations and other groups. In central Wisconsin, the Mead-Witter Foundation [WLA Citation of Merit] has been a big supporter, providing much-needed grants to community libraries. Construction of the central library here in Portage County was funded by tax dollars and a major capital campaign that asked local residents and businesses to chip with donations. They did.
It pays off, too. A 2008 research study commissioned by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction on the contribution of Wisconsin public libraries to the state economy found that tax dollars invested in Wisconsin public libraries produced a return on investment of $4.06 of library services for each $1 of taxpayer investment, including both direct economic contributions and the total market value of library services.