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08/02/09
The Source of Library Cutbacks
Filed under: Politics
Posted by: Andy @ 5:58 pm

This is the start of my second summer vacation this year. I will detail my plans in another entry. Now, I want to opine on an article I found in the local paper (the Marion, Indiana Chronicle-Tribune) this morning. (I decided to subscribe for a further three months after thinking about letting it lapse due to its sparseness.)

One of the county library boards drove out its director, using the trumped-up charge of “falsifying time reports” to dismiss her. In the struggle the board did not follow to the letter procedures for the advertisement of the library budget as laid out by the state Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF), which public libraries and other local government units in Indiana must follow to the letter. That is the reason that the DLGF slashed the library’s requested revenue allocation by one sixth, forcing the board to cut its hours down to 28½ hours a week.

The board claimed lower tax revenues due to the mini-depression; however, other libraries in the county are hit by the mini-depression, too, but are doing relatively well. The board is hoping a volunteer program will help it out; but that will be hard to carry out when the locals are passing around a petition calling for the board’s ouster. The library is too poor to even look for a new director; but even if it weren’t, word of the board’s shenanigans will have spread among the librarian community — they are surely known at the Indiana State Library, where the ex-director asked in vain for help — so that no librarian will want to work for the board.

The board of that library faces an even bigger problem, one that all public libraries in Indiana will face but one which will hit that library harder than most. The Indiana State Library is formulating standards on available services and employee training, which all public libraries must follow if they want to keep on being funded by taxes. It is a safe bet that the library does not meet even the lowest of the three tiers under which public libraries are to be classed.

Also, we in Indiana are struggling with attempts to implement the Kernan-Shepard Report, which seeks to reduce local government and, especially, reduce the number of libraries in the state. It has not had much success so far; but even if some of its articles become law, the smallest libraries either will become branches of the bigger ones or will be forced to close. And that library is among the smallest. And being a stink in the nostrils of the Indiana State Library, which will carry out any library-related laws from that Report, does not help at all.

The village where the library sits needs to reform the library if it wants to keep it. And one of the things it will need to do is to replace the current members of the board. The new board will then needs to work with the village to convince the DLGF, ISL and the librarian community that it is working for the betterment of all and not for the throbbing egos of some.

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