Friday, September 4, 2009

Statewide Budget Cuts Will Impact Local Library Service

The Illinois State Library and the regional library systems in Illinois recently announced cuts to grant programs and system funding that will directly impact local libraries like ours. Funding for the State Library and regional library systems was cut 16% for Fiscal Year 2010.

Regional library systems support local libraries with delivery service that is the backbone of Interlibrary Loan in the state. They partner with local libraries to support automation consortia like PrairieCat that provide shared catalogs for libraries. Regional library systems are also the main source of continuing education for local libraries. Level funding for regional library systems for more than a decade has eroded their ability to meet the needs of local libraries for these essential services. This 16% will push more of the cost for these essential services to the local libraries. Our regional library system, Prairie Area Library System (PALS), has not yet announced the plan to balance their budget in Fiscal Year 2010.

The Public Library Per Capita Grant is the main source of state funding for the Plainfield Public Library. Last fiscal year, the Plainfield's Per Capita grant was over $80,000, at $1.21 per capita. Set by state statute at $1.25 per capita, it has not reached that funding level in well over a decade. In Fiscal Year 2010, the Public Library Per Capita Grant program received a 47% cut. The Illinois State Library administration made the decision to offset this cut using federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant monies. However, this means that there will be no LSTA programmatic grants to individual libraries in 2010. The Plainfield Public Library, and many of our neighbors, put considerable time and effort into LSTA grant applications for 2010. Our LSTA grant projects included digitization of historical materials and services to children with autism. The LSTA grant program had been the main source of federal funds for public libraries in Illinois. Even with the LSTA grant funds, Public Library Per Capita grants are expected to be about 16% less than they were in Fiscal Year 2009, a loss of about $13,000 for the Plainfield Public Library.

Thankfully, our conservative budgeting practices should help to minimize the impact of the loss, but it will still be felt.

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