Permanent Shift?: Library Budgets 2010 - 1/15/2010 - Library Journal: "As many libraries are hit by gloomy times, they’re challenged to offer less and work differently
By Norman Oder -- Library Journal, 1/15/2010
It’s no surprise that libraries in LJ’s annual budget survey reported an overall downward trend, with the expected decline in total budgets some 2.6% and the change in materials budgets 3.5% (see Table 1, p. 45). Per capita funding is nudging down after years of steady if sometimes modest increases, with a projected decline of 1.6% in FY10.
After all, the country has not emerged from a major economic downturn, and libraries—especially those lacking a dedicated funding stream—are particularly vulnerable to budget cutbacks and declining property values.
While it may be politically tougher to close buildings than drain services, some library boards and local governing authorities, their backs to the wall, have begun to shut down facilities. In several high-profile cases, however, such as in Omaha and Pittsburgh, branches were saved through fundraising and emergency government funds. And some libraries, notably those in economically healthy areas, are still sailing ahead.
But the general mood is one of caution and concern. Only 16% of those reporting say they are “very positive, upbeat” about their financial future, while 23% are “very negative, depressed.” Notably, 35% of the largest libraries report the latter. More than 40% of libraries have frozen salaries and reduced staff. Libraries serving one million or more population have lost, on average, 50 employees."