Another slash--public libraries threatened
The Fontana Regional Library has put out the word about a 4.8% in state spending on public libraries. This plan is part of a trend to minimize the role of the arts, literature, and the humanities in our lives. The reasons given are both false, I believe.
One is the focus on jobs: and by jobs, technical jobs are indicated. A look at job growth trends in the U.S. shows that only one of the top ten healthiest fields is technical. It doesn't take much analysis to conclude that a society's economic health is composed of many parts. And that does not take into consideration the investment in the job force represented by education; nor the role of humanities education in citizenship and governance.
The second rationale is the need for budget cuts. As noted simply in a previous post, the governor's budget plan includes the removal of the estate tax.
Here is the Fontana Library's message:
Opposing State Funding Cuts for Public Libraries
Franklin – Governor Pat McCrory has released his proposed budget for 2013-15, and it calls for a cut of 4.8% in state spending on public libraries. Total state funding is currently at just over $13 million spread among all public libraries in North Carolina. Since 1998, per capita state funding has dropped steadily from $2.24 to less than $1.40 today. The proposed cut would drop it lower.
“Libraries throughout western North Carolina will be hard-hit by a nearly 5% reduction in state monies,” according to Karen Wallace, Director of Fontana Regional Library. Even before the proposed cuts were announced, the North Carolina Public Library Director’s Association was active in spear-heading a statewide effort to protect and promote library funding .
Part of that effort is Library Legislative Day, held in Raleigh on March 26th and designed to bring attention to the value of libraries in the budget process. The day is intended as a time for library supporters to visit state legislators and advocate in favor of library funding.
Locally, Fontana Regional Library is using Library Legislative Day as a kick-off to a public awareness campaign about the importance of state funding for libraries.
Fontana Regional Library, which comprises the six libraries in Macon, Jackson, and Swain Counties, is asking patrons to contact local and state elected officials to voice support for public spending on libraries. “We are beginning with a petition drive,” said Fontana Regional Library Director Karen Wallace. “If patrons would like to show their support, they can do so by signing a petition that will be available at all our member libraries. Of course, we also encourage them to contact legislators directly.”
In a service area with a combined total population of more than 88,000, according to the 2010 census, Fontana had nearly half a million visits to its member libraries in the 2011-12 fiscal year. In addition, there were more than 92,000 computer use sessions during that same time. According to Wallace, “Our data shows that we provide computer and high-speed internet access to many people who do not have these resources at home. In addition, we have staff available to offer help when needed.”
Any resident wishing to sign a petition in support of library funding may do so at their local library. The petition reads, "I believe that the public library is the heart of my community. It enriches my life and inspires my future. For these reasons, I support the funding of public libraries with my tax dollars."
For more information about the variety of services and programs offered by Fontana Regional Library, please contact the Macon County Public Library in Franklin at 524-3600 or the Hudson Library in Highlands at 526-3031or visit www.fontanalib.org.