Newsdesk: Antitax Fever, E. Cleveland Merger, Reference ConferenceSep 15, 2010
News highlights from LibraryJournal.com
Anti-tax Ballot Measures Alarming Coloradans
Public services in Colorado, including library services, could be devastated if three seemingly simple-and, to critics, complex and deceptive-tax rollback measures pass in the November 2 election. According to an analysis by the Colorado Legislative Council, the state's general operating budget would be left almost completely committed to paying for the required K-12 education.
"For the first time in my career, I question whether the public values public service," Janine Reid, director of the High Plains Library District, Greeley, told LJ. She noted the appeal of the campaign: "Who wouldn't want to be limited to spending $10 for a new vehicle license?" Library advocates have organized under the banner of Bad 3 Bad 4 Libraries, while major business and civic organizations have organized as Coloradans for Responsible Reform under the banner of Don't Hurt Colorado.
Colorado Lib.: "Perfect Storm"
Citing what its director calls "a perfect storm of budget challenges," the Jefferson County Public Library (JCPL), Lakewood, CO, plans to cut its budget by at least $3 million-about 12 percent-over the next two years.
And it could be worse for JCPL-the state's third-largest library-and other Colorado libraries if pending antitax ballot measures (see story above) pass. The library board has proposed closing libraries on Mondays, eliminating about 25 jobs through a combination of vacancies and layoffs, cutting the materials budget by eight percent, and suspending employee merit increases.
East Cleveland Library Seeks To Join Cuyahoga
Though it is the state's poorest city, East Cleveland, OH, population 27,000, has long had an impressive library, with special collections and a main library theater. However, after a year of dramatic cuts in library support and services, the East Cleveland Public Library (ECPL) is seeking to become part of the Cuyahoga County Public Library in Parma.
The move would reduce the smaller library's autonomy (and, perhaps, identity, in a predominantly African American community) while offering stability as well as lower costs to locals. The larger system-near the top in national rankings-requires a due diligence process regarding finances and facilities.
At Conference, Efforts To Rejuvenate Reference
Against a backdrop of shrinking budgets and generally declining reference usage statistics, some 315 public and academic librarians gathered in Denver, August 8-10, for the Reference Renaissance conference to discuss how new mobile technologies and improved responsiveness to patrons might prove reinvigorating. There was a somewhat narrow focus on library-born services, even as users turn to consumer and peer information networks.
Keynoter Andrew Walsh of the University of Huddersfield, UK, said mobile devices provide a unique opportunity to meet users at the point of their information needs. He urged librarians to embrace SMS text message reference and consider QR codes.
In Stamford, CT, Reprieve Dashed, Cuts Coming
In June, the Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT, announced it would close its three branches all but one day a week and cut hours at the main library, all to meet a budget shortfall of $1.2 million, some 17 percent less than the library sought to maintain services.
The library board agreed to stave off closings until September, aiming to ask the municipality's chief legislative body, in this case the Board of Representatives, to provide funding for the library. But the city said that neither it nor the board has authority to do so, because Ferguson isn't operated by the city. The library has withdrawn its request.
The Latest Public Library Loan? Electricity Meters
Spurred by concerns about conservation and cost, public utilities across the country have begun to partner with libraries, enabling loans of portable Kill a Watt electricity meters, which can be used to gauge home power usage.
In Seattle, where the initiative is fully funded by public utility Seattle City Light, the library system doubled its supply of meters for loan from 50 to 100 to keep up with demand.
New Studies Measure Academic Library ROI
A new international study of eight libraries suggests that for every monetary unit invested in academic libraries, the parent institution received between 15.54 and 0.64 units in research grant income. Such results suggest that there are many factors at work, notably the university's focus on STM research, the area most likely to generate grants.
Principal investigator Carol Tenopir, who directs the Center for Information and Communication Studies at the College of Communication and Information, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and is LJ's longtime Online Databases columnist, is leading another study, "Value, Outcomes, and Return on Investment of Academic Libraries," a $1 million project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Among the outcomes expected are an ROI calculation made in three test libraries, a model for collecting and calculating ROI in other academic libraries, and web-based tools for determining ROI that can be used to demonstrate value at specific libraries and to help them set priorities.
Evanston Gets Library Fund
The Evanston Public Library (EPL), IL, Board of Trustees has voted to establish a Public Library Fund (PLF), allowing it to set its own millage, up to a limitation.
The state-determined maximum of .23 mills per $1000 assessed property value is nearly twice the current assessment in Evanston. The city council would be obligated to collect the taxes and deposit them into a library fund, rather than treat library funding as discretionary. A budget was expected to be established at a September 15 meeting.
Greek Lib. Gets Gates award
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has presented its 2010 Access to Learning Award, worth $1 million, to the Veria Central Public Library in northern Greece. It is the first library in the country to provide its users with free access to computers and the Internet and the first to have its own website. The award was announced at the World Library and Information Congress of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), held in Gothenburg, Sweden, August 10-15, 2010.
OCLC Tests Article ILL Plan
OCLC is currently field-testing a new service called Direct Request for Articles, in which PDFs of complete journal articles are made available through OCLC's WorldCat Resource Sharing interlibrary loan (ILL) service.
Via the service, a patron submits an ILL request for a particular article; the service then determines what participating library owns the material in electronic form and whether the material is available via ILL. The number of articles that could be available may be relatively small owing to license agreements.
TX Bookmobile PL Closes
The 80-year-old Jefferson County Library, TX, comprised of a bookmobile and a small walk-in library for roughly 33,000 residents, will close in December. Its budget was $300,000.
The library, based in Beaumont, serves unincorporated areas of the county. Under an interlocal agreement, the county could pay to allow residents privileges at city-run libraries.