Library budgets trend downward, though 52 percent expect an increase. Lack of support at state level adds to strain. Library Journal’s annual budget survey reveals that many public libraries are, at best, furiously treading water.
The 388 libraries that responded to the survey projected a negligible overall decrease in their total 2012 operating budgets (0.7 percent). Materials budgets are down 1.2 percent. And personnel budgets are relatively flat, with an uptick of just 0.2 percent.
But most libraries have still not recovered from the massive cuts inflicted since the financial crisis of 2008, and when this depressed starting point meets with the rapid evaporation of state aid and the inexorable rise of expenses, then the numbers often translate to stressed staffs, fewer materials, and reduced service hours.