Monday, April 11, 2011

California's Depressing Library Landscape

2011 and beyond?

Elementary, My Dears: For the love of libraries, by Margaret Lavin.  (San Mateo County Times, 4/10/2011)

Excerpt:  "If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries," President John F. Kennedy noted many years ago. "These libraries should be open to all."

"Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library," Lady Bird Johnson once declared. "The only entrance requirement is interest."

It is appropriate to reflect on these remarks as we celebrate National Library Week, an annual celebration of the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians.

Unfortunately, there is little to celebrate here in California. Gov. Jerry Brown's 2011-12 budget proposal eliminates $30.4 million from the state's public library programs.

American Library Association President Roberta Stevens released a statement regarding the proposed cuts in California.

"What will happen to the thousands of people who depend on libraries as a lifeline while they look for jobs and improve their skills to be competitive in today's job market?" she said. "U.S. public libraries are first responders in a time of economic uncertainty.

"I encourage Gov. Brown not to bury his head in the sand and work to understand the value of public libraries," she added.

California school libraries are also in dismal shape. According to the California Department of Education, the national average is one school librarian to every 856 students. California's average is one librarian to every 5,124 students

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