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Monday, April 2, 2007

State funding initiative

I’m just getting back from ten days of vacation, and I’m disappointed to learn that the initiative to obtain state funding of public libraries has taken a large step backwards.

The House General Committee voted out a bill, H-99, to create a legislative study committee that would, in part, “document the full range of services provided by public libraries and the impact that these services have on their patrons and communities; and consider at what level financial support is needed for public libraries so that they can meet the increased demands of Vermont’s citizens.”

The legislation also created a “public library special fund,” with initial funding of $10,000. A $10,000 state-wide appropriation was not going to have a meaningful impact, but the creation of the “special fund” was something tangible to advocate for with the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

The bill was referred to the House Appropriations Committee which then stripped the bill of funding and substance. The bill, as passed by the full House, reads,

(a) The Joint Fiscal Office and the Legislative Council, with the cooperation of the State department of libraries, and in consultation with the Vermont Library Association, shall identify other states that are comparable to Vermont in terms of population or population density. The study shall examine the number of libraries per capita, funding mechanisms, governance structures, and the services provided from the state library.

(b) A report detailing the results of the study shall be submitted to the general assembly by January 15, 2008.

Our attention will now turn to the Senate Education and Appropriations Committees.

The Times Argus ran an article on state funding on March 28th.