Did you all have a good National Library Week? The party started at ALA with the release of the 2011 State of America’s Libraries report; chock full of statistics and anecdotal reports from all corners of the library world. The report included data from the 2009-2010 Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study (PLFTAS), as well as preliminary data from the 2010-2011 Study to be published in June 2011.
The preliminary PLFTAS data included in the ALA report was on state funding for public libraries (or the lack thereof). This was compiled from survey responses of chief officers of state library agencies (COSLA) in November 2010. For the2011 report, chief officers in 45 of 50 states and the District of Columbia responded to the online survey. Preliminary findings include:
- Nineteen states reported cuts in state funding for public libraries from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2011. Of these, over half indicated that the cuts were greater than 10 percent.
- Fourteen states reported there had been no change from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2011.
- Four states reported an increase in funding, but did so with caveats. In two cases, one-time supplemental funding offset state cuts. In another, the increased funding was not enough to make up for cuts in fiscal 2010, resulting in an overall decrease in funding since fiscal 2009.
- Seven states and the District of Columbia do not provide state funding.
Comparing COSLA data over the past four years, 28 states have reported a decrease in funding, with cumulative cuts averaging greater than 10 percent. With that last bit of “downer data,” keep in mind that the State of America’s Libraries report is a great PR and advocacy tool. The media has really been diving into the content, especially the most frequently challenged books, but also technology availability and use, assistance for job seekers, increasing circulation of print and e-books, and other important library data.
Be sure to bookmark the State of America’s Libraries report for quick access when crafting your advocacy message for state legislators, city and county managers, and other elected officials, community groups, and the local media. Recent efforts of library advocates have brought some rays of light to permeate the fiscal gloom. We’re all due a little library sunshine.