How the Governor's Proposed Budget Affects CPL
Governor Snyder released his budget proposal last week, and as expected, the news is grim. The cuts to public, school, and university libraries across the state are significant, and will affect the services that CPL will be able to provide to our community — namely, interlibrary loan and research databases.
The Governor has proposed cutting state aid to libraries to $3 million. The statutorily-required funding is $15 million. The current funding level of $5 million automatically qualifies the state to receive a federal matching grant of $5 million, which pays for MeLCat (statewide interlibrary loan) and the Michigan eLibrary (MeL — statewide research databases). Cutting state aid results in a cut to, and possibly a loss of, the matching grant, which puts MeL and MeLCat in jeopardy.
MeL and MeLCat exemplify the resource-sharing, aggregation of services, eliminating duplication of effort, and economies of scale that the Governor has emphasized over and over. More than 300 libraries — public libraries, K-12 libraries, and university libraries — pool this funding to provide services to Michigan residents. The $5 million investment by the state nets a $5 million matching grant, and saves taxpayers nearly $72 million annually, when you consider the cost to each library if they had to purchase these same resources on their own.
The Michigan Library Association has released a response to the proposed 40% cut to state aid to public libraries, and the impact of these cuts to interlibrary loan services and research databases. MLA President Christine Berro, Portage District Library, states,
Libraries are the only community that has successfully achieved statewide group purchasing which the Governor has called for — saving the state $72 million — and that is now at risk. The MeLibrary, MeLCat interlibrary loan and MeL Tests and Tutorials — all resources used for research, education, job seeking and preparation — are in jeopardy. These services are invaluable to students at all levels and across the education spectrum.
For CPL, we estimate it would cost more than $300,000 annually — which we don't have due to our own budget cuts — if we had to subscribe to the MeL research databases on our own (every database listed here that has a purple box with an "M" is a MeL research database; that's 29 out of the 68 we offer). In 2009, 385,523,800 searches were made in MeL by 1,211,455 users.
Canton residents request about 18,000 books from other libraries through MeLCat interlibrary loan annually; without MeLCat, each interlibrary loan would cost a minimum of $5 (some go as high as $20), or about $100,000 annually.
We know how valuable these services are to you, and will continue to monitor the state budget proposals through the revisions that are sure to come.
Eva M. Davis, Director