Similar fates may await more US libraries as state and local budget cuts, low property tax revenues and higher operating costs impact libraries’ bottom lines. At budget time, officials may deem libraries nonessential or easily replaced by online resources. Our report shows how libraries in a half-dozen areas around the country are coping.
Chicago: Last October, the city council approved a budget with more than $8 million in cuts to libraries. That was an upward revision from the original budget, which earmarked half the city’s impending layoffs for the library system even though it accounts for 3 percent of overall spending, prompting petitions and sit-ins from library supporters. Another concession: Libraries were to close Mondays, but now will remain open Monday and Friday mornings when school is out.
Michigan: The state legislature is considering a bill to eliminate the personal property tax on businesses. This would result in an estimated $1.2 billion in cuts to libraries, schools, police departments and other local institutions. The legislation contains no plans for replacing the revenue. A coalition of organizations is running a “Replace, Don’t Erase” campaign.
For more on how US libraries are faring, see the American Library Association’s report on the State of American Libraries. To learn how you can help preserve libraries in your community, visit the ALA’s Save Libraries in Your State web page.