Michigan Libraries at Risk

I recently received a message about libraries in the great state of Michigan.  So I wanted to spread the word, and acknowledge that I stand with my friends and former colleagues in Michigan.  And if you didn’t know, Michigan librarians totally Rock!

From my friend Tim:

MICHIGAN LIBRARIES AT RISK

Governor Snyder has called on our state to build its knowledge-based economy and to reduce state expenses through efficiencies and group spending. The state’s libraries are already doing both – supporting the knowledge-based economy and creating significant savings by statewide group purchasing through the Michigan eLibrary. However, under the Governor’s proposed budget the Michigan eLibrary is at risk of crumbling by 2013.

Libraries support the economy. They are a factor in attracting businesses to a community. People go to libraries to learn about employment opportunities and to learn Internet skills necessary for getting a job. For example, the Michigan eLibrary (MeL) offers Tests and Tutorials which include GED and advanced preparation guides as well as tests for police, fire, and nursing certification. The MeL Business and Jobs Gateway provides needed assistance to job seekers and small businesses. Economic hardship has drawn people to use MeLCat, a statewide inter-library loan service especially important to rural communities, 33% more last year than the year before.

The system, as it is currently funded, is far cheaper than the alternative. It costs the State of Michigan $5 million to provide the MeL databases and support systems to the citizens of Michigan. That is a group purchase. If these databases were paid for by every library in the state, residents would have to pay an estimated $72 million to duplicate what is currently available. We are currently saving $67 million by funding MeL!

Similarly, if these same libraries who are now participating in MeLCat had to use their own funds to arrange for the delivery of materials, the cost would be an estimated $23 million. As it stands, the current cost of MeLCat delivery of $650,733. We are saving $22 million! I’d call that a money-saving group purchase. Wouldn’t you? By reducing library funding to unsustainable levels, the Governor would actually be cutting off the support system of group purchasing for a knowledge-based economy that is already in place! Why put such a significant savings at risk?

Unemployed persons are being asked to use online application tools in order to save money. But when people can no longer afford Internet access at home, they turn to their local library, the one place they know they can count on for free access. Thus many people who now need libraries more than ever would no longer have access to them. That doesn’t make much sense.

Library funding has already been reduced a total of 76% since 2000! Residents in the Lakeland Library Cooperative area have already seen limits placed on the delivery of inter-library loan materials. If the proposed budget cuts become a reality, the entire delivery system could collapse as all eleven library cooperatives in the state would be forced to close within two years!

The proposed budget offers us $4.5 million. The minimum required to stay afloat, however, is the $7.25 million we currently have.

If you are concerned about this and want to be part of the solution, please contact your State Senators and Representatives. Send them an e-mail or telephone them. (Telephoning is most effective.) Ask them to hold library funding harmless at $7.25 million which saves the state money and provides the citizens of Michigan invaluable information resources.

Contact information can be found under ‘Government’ at
http://www.flatriverlibrary.org/reference.html.
More information can be found at
http://www.mla.lib.mi.us/node/1343

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