Thursday, August 4, 2011

Daily Union Series on Public Libraries and the Elimination of Maintenance of Effort (2nd Installment)

Costs are up and funds down at the Dwight Foster Library in Fort. (Jefferson County Daily Union, 8/3/2011)

Excerpt:   Librarians all over the state are concerned about the elimination of the Maintenance of Effort statutes that required municipalities to provide fairly steady support to their libraries. Under Governor Scott Walker and the Legislature, this requirement, which had been in force for the last three decades, has been eliminated.

In the past, this requirement has dictated that municipalities should continue to fund their libraries at the same level of funding as they have in the average of the last three years.

"This has been part of the law for a long time," Meyer said.

Explaining the reasoning behind it, she said that if one municipality funds its library at a much lower level, it will impact other area libraries as people turn elsewhere to check out and use library resources.

"At some point, a library becomes a drain on a system when it's not contributing as much as it's taking away from other libraries," Meyer said. "Now that this protection has been removed, there's a lot of concern and fear about what that may bring."

In Fort Atkinson's case, she said, she has a lot of faith in the city council and in the local community to continue supporting the library as it has in the past.

"It took a lot of faith on the part of the community to try to build a new library in this time, and now that we have the new library, I think it's going to continue to be supported," Meyer said.

Meanwhile, she said, library planners must be very creative about conserving their resources while still offering the high level of service that the community has grown to expect.

Meyer said she is extremely relieved that the state's Joint Finance Committee decided to restore WiscNet, the low-cost Internet service for the state's libraries and schools.

"It is the backbone for our automation system and how we share materials," Meyer stated.

Related post:
Jefferson Public Library. (8/3/2011)

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