Overall, states slashed funding to public libraries 37.6 percent from fiscal 2001 to 2010, from $1.28 billion to $799.4 million, the Institute of Museum and Library Services reported in a survey for fiscal 2010 which was released in January. The institute is the primary source of federal funds to libraries and museums. (See the institute’s 50-state interactive here.)
Meanwhile, local revenue dedicated to libraries grew 23.5 percent over the 10 years, from $7.76 billion in 2001 to $9.59 billion in 2010.
States provide only about 7.5 percent of operating revenue for public libraries; local governments shoulder 85 percent. Gifts, fines, fees and grants contribute about 7 percent and the federal government just 0.5 percent, according to the institute.
There are signs the slowly improving economy is helping libraries’ budgets. Revenue from all sources to the nation’s 8,956 public libraries ticked up slightly, from $11.3 billion in 2010 to $11.4 billion in 2011.
“There continue to be reductions in hours and flat budgets – but perhaps the constant budget cuts are leveling off for public libraries,” said the library association’s report on its 2013-2014 survey of Chiefs of State Library Agencies.
When they were surveyed last December and January, most state librarians believed their states’ direct aid to public libraries would remain the same or that it was too soon to say. Eleven chiefs expected their states to increase library funds by more than 10 percent. They were Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oregon.
The article includes a number of mentions of specific public libraries and/or quotes from library officials including:
- Audubon Regional Library in Louisiana
- Seattle Public Library
- Warren County Public Library in Kentucky
- Westport Public Library in Connecticut
- Chattanooga Public Library
- Pima County Library in Arizona
- Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library in Kansas
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