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Sun Newspaper Editorial


From: Lawrence A. Parker (occti_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Apr 05 2003 - 18:35:29 PST

 Sounding an alarm
 April 3, 2003

 First it was the schools. Now it's public libraries facing cutbacks in
state funding. Is it any wonder Dick and Jane can't read? Library staff
members and supporters rallied Wednesday in Columbus in an effort to
alert the public to declining state support of libraries. They're
sounding an alarm to let residents know what's happening regarding the
funding lifeline for public libraries statewide. We can help by letting
local legislators know how important libraries are, especially in these
troubling times when we hunger for information that can be accessed
easily, and for free, at a public library. The goal is simple: to ensure
that the state continues to provide a dedicated source of funding that,
at least in theory, is protected from the uncertainty accompanying
competition with other programs vying for general fund dollars. Library
officials are realistic enough to know that some cuts are inevitable. In
fact, they're bracing for and expecting another 10-percent cut in state
funds this year. But the fact that some state legislators have suggested
eliminating the state library fund completely raises a red flag. Such a
move would devastate public libraries, since about 74 percent are
completely dependent upon state funding.
 The Local and Library General Support Fund sets aside 5.7 percent of
personal income tax revenues to provide operating money for libraries
statewide. Because of declining income tax receipts, there was an
8.5-percent decrease in library funding last year and another increase
is expected this year.
 Libraries are doing what they can to absorb the cuts by reducing
newsletters, not replacing staff members who leave, cutting back on
furniture, equipment, conference attendance and other items. Some even
are seeking additional funds from voters. Now it's our turn to become
more informed about their financial plight and to help keep legislators
on their toes as they continue to wrestle with the state budget deficit.
 C 2003 Sun Newspapers
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