Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Library News: Let's take the "Cut" out of Connecticut when it comes to library funding

When I lived in Illinois I had four library cards in my wallet, five if you count my Loyola University alumna card which gives me library borrowing privileges. Other cards were from The Brookfield Public Library (where I lived), The Chicago Public Library (which I frequented), The College of DuPage Library (where I worked years ago), and The Elmhurst Public Library (where I worked before moving to CT).

I've lived in Connecticut for a little over a year now. My partner and I first started exploring the Connecticut Shoreline as a place to live in April 2011. I wrote about first visits to both Branford's Blackstone Library and the Guilford Free Library (which is now my home library) years before we moved here. These are beautiful libraries, but what helped us feel comfortable in our decision to move to CT wasn't the physical beauty of the libraries, but the library system itself.

No joke. We both grew up in families that valued their local public library and continued to be regular library users as adults. We appreciated the vast inter-library loan system and library consortiums in Illinois.

Just weeks ago I was proud that Governor Malloy made Connecticut the first state to boycott official travel to Indiana due to its new discriminatory law. Yesterday, however, I was disheartened to learn that Governor Malloy is proposing cuts to Connecticut's library system. And not just budget cuts that trim things here and there, but cuts that wipe out entire programs.

I currently have one library card in my wallet which was issued in my town's library, but that can be used at any public library in Connecticut. I can also log into my account on my library's website and request books from any library. For now, anyway.

If you're a Connecticut resident and care about libraries, visit the Connecticut Library Association's website to learn more about the proposed cuts and, if you're so inclined, fill out a simple take action form to send a letter to the governor and other representatives.

Below is the letter I sent to the Governor and other representatives this evening. It's a mash-up of content provided by the CT Library Association and my own words:
My wife and I moved from Illinois to Connecticut in December 2013. We didn't move here for jobs or family or school, but because we wanted to live on the eastern seaboard.

One of the important resources we checked into before moving was the quality of the library system. We were thrilled to see that it was a system like the one we enjoyed in Illinois, one that shared resources among libraries which is critical in this day and age of tight budgets and limited shelf space. When libraries cannot share resources citizens suffer, and usually the most vulnerable among us get hit the hardest.

Zeroing out funding for Connecticard, Cooperating Library Service Units and Grants to Public Libraries as well as eliminating their enabling statutes will create chaos where none presently exists.

These cuts mean Connecticut residents will no longer be able to borrow from any public library across the state, coordinated purchasing of books and other library materials will vanish and library programs and services in urban areas where our public libraries already struggle will be cut.

Restoring these programs will save taxpayer dollars. Putting $2M in the budget for CT's libraries ($1.25M for Connecticard, $500,000 for Cooperating Library Service Units and $250,000 for Grants to Public Libraries) will save CT's taxpayers over $75M annually.

I know there are many hard decisions to be made concerning the budget, but please don't dismantle the excellent library system that's already in place. A vibrant library system is one of the best services a state can provide for both a happy present and a brighter future for its citizens.
There is a rally scheduled for Wednesday 4/15/15 from 12p-1pm in Hartford:


Thanks for reading!  Have you fought against library budget cuts in your state? What worked?

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