The Budget Balancing Act: LJ’s Budget Survey Shows Modest Improvement, and Signs of More To Come

Source: Meredith Schwartz, Library Journal, January 9, 2013

Though there aren’t a lot of whoops and cheers to be heard, a cautious optimism seems to describe the 2012 library budget landscape, according to LJ’s annual survey. Some 60 percent of libraries increased their funding, while 36 percent decreased it. Only four percent stayed the same.

Overall, the 488 libraries responding saw an average 1.2 percent increase compared to last year, which saw a 0.7 percent drop. Since 2008, library budgets have remained essentially flat: minor seesawing from year to year has added up to a 0.7 percent increase. Inflation in the same period has increased 6.9 percent, meaning that in comparable dollars libraries have 6.2 percent less spending power.

The year saw some regional variation in library support. Libraries in the Northeast were the most likely to increase their library budgets, at 65 percent, yet those that saw cuts saw the deepest cuts of all: the region was the only one to notice a negative percent change overall. The South and the West hovered closely around the national average of 60 percent with increases, but the Midwest lagged—only 54 percent of libraries saw an increase in funding, and 43 percent suffered cuts. The total change was greatest in the West, however, at 2.5 percent—the only region to beat inflation….