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 budget outlook for the library remains bleak in 2011. As I wrote last year, the deepening recession and declining property values mean less money coming in to the library — 95% of our 2010 revenues come from taxes Canton property owners pay to support library programs, collections, and services — which means more cuts for the next several years.
In 2011, our budget will drop another $300,000, to $4.9 million, bringing our cumulative total cuts since 2008 to $1.6 million. $4.9 million is the size our budget was in 2004, when we served 15,000 fewer people, checked out 600,000 fewer items, and had 40% more staff.
On September 10, library supporters will rally at the State Capitol in Lansing to encourage legislators to save the Library of Michigan and the important shared statewide resources, such as MeL databases and MeLCat interlibrary loan, that Canton Public Library users value. The rally will start at 9:30AM and supporters are asked to wear red shirts to show their support for statewide joint services.
The Governor's Executive Order dismantles the Department of History, Arts & Libraries and places the services of the Library of Michigan — both physical and online collections — in jeopardy. State funding and federal matching funds for MeLCat interlibrary loan and 25 MeL databases are at stake; due to the local economy and cuts to local funding associated with the recession, the Canton Public Library does not have the funds to pay for interlibrary loan or online genealogical, historical, or reference products if the state legislature does not act to maintain statewide library services — Canton residents would lose access to these resources.