The latest budget proposed for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2010, calls for an overall 16 percent cut to Massachusetts libraries. Wednesday's rally for libraries has been dubbed “Don’t Close the Books on Libraries,” and is slated from 11 a.m. to noon and will feature authors and testimonials from library users.
Local librarians plan to head to the Statehouse on Wednesday to make some noise about proposed cuts to state aid to libraries.
The latest budget proposed for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2010, calls for an overall 16 percent cut to Massachusetts libraries.
The rally for libraries dubbed “Don’t Close the Books on Libraries,” is from 11 a.m. to noon and will feature authors and testimonials from library users. The event is sponsored by the Massachusetts Library Association, and the public is encouraged to attend.
“Legislators say they don’t hear from libraries, sometimes we don’t make enough noise. I don’t know if it’s a librarian thing or what, but we need to make our voices heard,” said Carver Library Director Carole Julius, who will attend the rally. “I think people assume that libraries are free and that they’ll always be there, but they’re not free, they’re tax-based, and we need the tax base from the state and from the towns to stay in business. And if the funding’s not there, libraries won’t be there.”
According to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, legislators are considering reducing funding to regional networks by 28 percent while using the remainder of this fiscal year to develop a consolidation plan with the regions, reducing funding to automated networks by 27 percent, and reducing funding to the talking book programs by 16 percent, and level-funding state aid to public libraries and the MBLC’s administrative account.
East Bridgewater Library Director Manny Leite hopes to help legislators realize how vital libraries are to people, particularly during tough economic times.
“Libraries around the state have been devastated by some of the funding cuts, and these proposed cuts (for fiscal 2011) come at a time when we have patrons from not only our own library but surrounding libraries who use our resources for the Internet, employment, entertainment, academic studies, leisure activities,” said Leite. “People really do rely on their public library for more than just books.”
Bridgewater Public Library Associate Director Mary O’Connell said that libraries can and should play an important part in the nation’s economic recovery. Although Bridgewater does not receive library state aid because it was decertified by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners in 2008 due to town budget cuts, she will take that message to Boston with at least one Bridgewater library trustee on Wednesday.
While O’Connell is rallying at the Statehouse, a local group of library advocates will hold a demonstration in front of the Bridgewater Public Library to show their support for the public library system.
Bridgewater Library Trustee Janet Dye hopes library patrons will join her at the local demonstration from 11 a.m. to noon.
“Even though Bridgewater doesn’t get state aid, we thought we would piggy-back on the state rally because it’s all for the greater good,” said Dye. “It’s a matter of raising awareness, to let them legislators, know we’re still here. … We definitely still need to be on people’s minds.”