Libraries See Light After Years of Cuts

Source: Marsha Mercer, Stateline.org, June 4, 2014

…Buffeted by financial and cultural pressures, public libraries around the country are struggling to remain relevant and connect with patrons in the high-cost digital age. States, never a deep pocket for public libraries, have cut or even zeroed out aid, forcing libraries to rely more heavily on local funds. …

… Overall, states slashed funding to public libraries 37.6 percent from fiscal 2001 to 2010, from $1.28 billion to $799.4 million, the Institute of Museum and Library Services reported in a survey for fiscal 2010 which was released in January. The institute is the primary source of federal funds to libraries and museums. (See the institute’s 50-state interactive here.)

Meanwhile, local revenue dedicated to libraries grew 23.5 percent over the 10 years, from $7.76 billion in 2001 to $9.59 billion in 2010.

States provide only about 7.5 percent of operating revenue for public libraries; local governments shoulder 85 percent. Gifts, fines, fees and grants contribute about 7 percent and the federal government just 0.5 percent, according to the institute.

States that fail to support their public libraries risk losing federal Library Services and Technology Act grants, which are part of the 0.5 percent federal contribution. ….