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State budget still needs revenue side & advocacy sessions

Posted By Christi Buker, Monday, October 2, 2017

The Legislative Committee of the Pennsylvania Library Association met in July and again last week.  Since the state budget spending plan was approved prior to July 1, we had been hopeful that the related revenue plans to pay for it would be close behind.  Unfortunately, disagreements between the House and the Senate did not make that happen. 

Since increasing the personal income tax is not an option that either body is willing to consider, the plans for generating revenue are much more limited.  The first House version which included utilizing the balances in various funds was voted down by the Senate.  Unfortunately, the lack of a completed budget did not help Pennsylvania’s credit rating, and it was downgraded after September 15.  

The good news is that district library centers did receive their payments prior to September 15.  The other good news is that this week is the first time that both the PA House and Senate will be in session in Harrisburg at the same time in quite a while.  It sounds like they will be very busy at work this week, and we hope to have more to share soon.

In the meantime, please remember that it is budget preparation season for most government entities.  You are encouraged to spend a little time visiting your representatives and their local staff.  Share the good work you are doing, and remember to add the line “and we could do more if we had increased funding” and then elaborate if you need operational funds, capital improvements, or other specific needs. 

There will be two educational sessions at the Annual Conference in Pittsburgh that will cover advocacy.  Be sure not to miss –

                Sunday, October 15, 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm – “The other side of the table: Advocacy at the state and local levels” with Rick Mirabito, Lycoming County Commissioner.

                Monday, October 16, 9:00 am – 10:15 am – “Elected officials are people too!  How PR & Marketing can help your local advocacy and funding.”  The panel of speakers represents a wide range of libraries from small to large, rural to urban. 

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State budget update

Posted By Christi Buker, Friday, June 30, 2017

Last night the PA Senate put forward their numbers for the 2017-18 state spending budget.  Here’s a snapshot of library line items:


Senate version

Change from 2016-17 budget

Public Library Subsidy



No change

Library services for visually impaired & disabled


No change

Library access

Power Library, IDS (interlibrary loan service), statewide catalog



No change

Note: This line was proposed to be cut by $461,000 (15%) in the original House version

Office of Commonwealth Libraries



Reduced by $139,000 (6.9%)


The PA Senate has approved these spending figures and the House of Representatives is expected to vote this afternoon and approve these numbers.  It will then go to the Governor for his signature.  We do not anticipate any “blue-line” changes by the Governor to the library lines since these are the same amounts he proposed (except for the Office of Commonwealth Libraries) back in February.  The Legislature will still need to vote on revenue bills which will likely occur after the July 4th holiday. 

The good news is that we got funding for library access (details above) restored to the same level as last year.   More than 60% of all state budget lines were cut this year and some were completely eliminated.  So, to achieve this restoration of funding, a lot of people worked very hard.

Thanks go to members of the Pennsylvania Library Association for supporting our advocacy efforts through a portion of their dues investments.  That critical investment allows us to utilize the professional services of Greenlee Partners – who literally texted me at 11:30 pm to share the good news!

I’d also like to thank the Legislative Information Committee members who volunteer their time to consider talking points, strategy, and spear-heading our efforts.  Finally, I am grateful for each of you who reached out to your legislators, in some cases multiple times, to share how much your community needs and values your library and the amazing work that you do! 

Please keep sharing your stories, and even your struggles, so that we can help all Pennsylvania Libraries and move PA Forward!


Christi Buker | Executive Director
Pennsylvania Library Association 

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State budget still in the PA Senate's hands

Posted By Christi Buker, Monday, June 5, 2017

The Pennsylvania state budget is still under consideration of the PA Senate.  A quick recap – the Governor proposed a budget with level funding for the 4 line items that affect libraries directly. Then the PA House of Representatives moved very quickly to pass House Bill 218 which reduced two of the four lines.  Despite the quick move by the House, the Senate has not rushed to any decisions. 

The general consensus is that a budget will be completed on time before July 1, 2017 because next year is a big election year and legislators don’t want to have a budget impasse on their record right before the election.  Key points that the Senate is considering:

1.       Revenue numbers for the current year are well below predictions.  April was not a good revenue month.  The upcoming release of May’s revenue results could have a strong impact on the Senate’s decision.  If revenue continues to falter, the Senate may make more cuts.

2.       There is no plan for broad-based personal income tax increases.  New revenue for 2017-18 may include expanded gaming, and specialized taxes such as a soda tax similar to the Philadelphia soda tax.  Unfortunately, these taxes are not expected to generate enough revenue to cover the gaps in the budget.

With revenue so low – yes, more cuts are possible to the budget.  Right now, we are encouraging all library supporters to contact their PA Senators with the message – “Please don’t cut libraries any further, and please restore the $461,000 to have level funding for the Library Access line.”

The Library Access line includes:  Interlibrary Delivery Service (IDS) which makes interlibrary loan possible, statewide catalog – that includes the holdings of more than 2500 public, school, academic and special libraries, Power Library access to electronic resources that benefit not only public libraries but school libraries too.

The most influential Senators in this process and for libraries are Senator Pat Brown, Appropriations Chair; Senator John Eichelberger, Education Chair; Senator Jake Corman, Majority Leader; and Senator Joe Scarnati, President Pro Tempore.  For those people who are constituents of these senators – please take a moment to contact their offices – THIS WEEK – and tell them “Please don’t cut libraries any further!”

ALL of us need to call, email, and visit our PA Senators offices.  Show them the great things your library is doing – and how we help move PA Forward, IF we have the proper funding.  The final budget needs our help to keep libraries strong. 


PS - Here's a link to find your PA Senators:  CLICK Here to find your Senator

Thanks for your engagement - it is certainly easier when we each do a little bit!


Christi Buker | Executive Director
Pennsylvania Library Association | 220 Cumberland Parkway, Suite 10 | Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
717.766.7663 – office

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Powerful legislative activity starts at the local level

Posted By Christi Buker, Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Powerful and effective legislative activity starts at the local level - so . . .

Please remember to vote in the PA primary elections on Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Elections for local positions are very important as those people often progress to higher positions in years to come.  Make your selections now to get good people in those offices.  As library-lovers, we may not have the big money for political action committees, but we DO have lots of people - and our collective voices and votes make a difference!

Don't know who to vote for?  Ask the candidates, and/or their poll representatives, if they have a library card.  It may seem basic, but their answers can be very revealing and show their stance on libraries.  Who knows - it could also lead to a few more patrons or donors!

I'll be voting on Tuesday - and I hope to see your Facebook posts that you voted too!  


PS - To those library folks who take time off to help at the polls - a very special thank you for your work to improve our civic & social literacy!

Christi Buker | Executive Director
Pennsylvania Library Association | 220 Cumberland Parkway, Suite 10 | Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
717.766.7663 – office

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Federal support for PA Libraries

Posted By Christi Buker, Friday, April 28, 2017

As I’m sure you know, libraries across the state are funded through a combination of state, federal, county and municipal support, plus donations and fundraising efforts.  As we prepare for National Library Legislative Day on May 2 I’d like to focus on the federal support for libraries.

Federal support comes from 2 areas:

1.       The Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) authorizes federal dollars to support libraries.  The federal funds are administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  IMLS issues grants for libraries in three categories:

a.       The “Grants to States” program awarded $5.4 million to Pennsylvania in the current fiscal year.  Of this amount, $1.8 million covers operational and administrative support through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, more than $860,000 in direct support of library services, and $2.9 million for indirect support for library services. Detailed reports can be found on the Office of Commonwealth Libraries website at this link and scroll to the bottom:

PA LSTA funding

b.       Competitive IMLS grants vary from year to year.  In 2015-16, IMLS awarded $24,570 to PA libraries, but in 2016-17, IMLS awarded $1.196 million directly to PA libraries.

c.       IMLS also awards funds in the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program that helps develop strong, professional librarians. 

2.       The E-rate program is under the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and provides discounts to schools and libraries for affordable broadband and internet services.  Pennsylvania libraries were eligible for more than $4 million in reimbursement funding in 2015.  This is nearly a 66% discount!

Detailed reports about E-rate discounts for libraries in Pennsylvania can be found at this link:  PA E-rate information

Pennsylvania Library Association receives federal LSTA support, provided through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries for 3 statewide programs:

1.       PA Forward initiative – “Literacy is POWER.  Libraries provide the FUEL, for you, your community, for Pennsylvania”, the new Star Library Program, and the vital 5 literacies – basic, information, civic and social, health, and financial literacy

2.       College and Research Division (CRD) professional development support that underwrites the expenses of quality speakers and trainers at chapter workshops, and annual conference

3.       PALS = Pennsylvania Library Association Academy of Leadership Studies workshops have grown into the Directors’ Institute, Leadership Academy, and You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader workshop.


Two useful documents that we will be using on May 2 for National Library Legislative Day, can be found here.



Please talk to your US Congressman and US Senators – and let them know that IMLS and e-Rate are important to your local library, and for ALL libraries in Pennsylvania.


Christi Buker | Executive Director
Pennsylvania Library Association | 220 Cumberland Parkway, Suite 10 | Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
717.766.7663 – office

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717-766-7663 Phone
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