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Better Education Means Investing in Better Libraries; Your Help Needed on State Budget

Posted By Glenn Miller, Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Great Recession has ended.  New leadership has come to Harrisburg and improving education is a top priority this year.  Libraries are an essential part of a strong Pennsylvania education and are key assets to building literacy levels and moving PA Forward.

The Pennsylvania Library Association’s literacy initiative, PA Forward (www.paforward.org), brings to life how our residents rely on libraries for self-improvement in five essential areas:  Basic, Information, Civic and Social, Health, and Financial Literacies.

Just consider these few examples:

·         Basic:  Libraries build literacy and learning skills from the earliest years of life, sustaining year-round learning during the K-12 years and making lifelong learning possible for anyone.

·         Information:  They help us gain a command of new online resources and technologies and give us the ability to fully participate as citizens, workers, and consumers in a digital society.

·         Civic & Social:  They support our ability to engage in and contribute to community life.

·         Health:  They guide us to lead healthier lives and make more informed health care decisions.

·         Financial:  They prepare us to make smarter financial decisions at home and at work and teach our youngest citizens (even as young as preschoolers) to understand financial concepts and begin to think about spending, saving, and contributing.

 

To prepare citizens to meet the demands of life, libraries offer print and online resources, public programs, community outreach services, and staff members who are information experts.  No organizations in our state are better positioned than libraries to help move PA Forward. 

 But for libraries, it has become increasingly difficult to provide these essential literacy services after nine years of stagnant and declining budgets.  How can libraries continue to provide literacy and other critical services without strong support of the state?

The Pennsylvania Library Association has approved a plan that will provide libraries with the resources they need to meet the growing demands of the public.  We’ll need your support with the Governor and your legislators for the plan below, and we urge you support libraries by sending an email now.

Our long-term goals call for the following improvements from the state:

  • Beginning with the Public Library Subsidy, more equitable state support for library services is needed.  Since Pennsylvania law requires that local libraries provide at least $5 per capita to enter the state aid program, PaLA believes that it is appropriate and fair to ask state government to provide at least this same level—$5 per capita—in direct support to local libraries.  In order to achieve this “5 for 5” goal, PaLA estimates that an additional state investment of $36.7 million will be needed.  This amount could be phased in over a 3-to-5 year period.  (For example, $9 million could be added to the base each year over four years, just to cite one possible scenario.)
  • As for the additional three library-related state budget line item appropriations—Library Access, the State Library, and Libraries for the Visually Impaired and Disabled—PaLA seeks to restore all three categories to pre-Great Recession (2007-08) levels.  In so doing, power could be restored to POWER Library and greater sharing of resources would be encouraged through some version of a lending reimbursement program and additional funding for interlibrary delivery.  The State Library’s unique collections could be made more available to the public, and its statewide leadership role restored.  And library services for thousands with physical challenges—including a growing number of wounded veterans—could be strengthened.

Over the next several state budgets, in order to truly move PA Forward, the Pennsylvania Library Association believes the following long-term funding goals need to be met:

 State Support
       
           for Library Services
       
   THEN NOW Wolf PaLA
       Proposal  FUTURE
         GOAL
         
 Budget Year
 2007-08  2014-15  2015-16  ???
         
 Governor  Rendell  Corbett  Wolf  Wolf ?
         
 Public Library Subsidy
 $75,750,000  $53,507,000  $53,507,000  $90,253,500
         
 Library Access
 $7,386,000 $3,071,000 $2,821,000  $7,386,000
         
 State Library
 $4,784,000  $1,957,000  $1,965,000  $4,784,000
         
 Library Services for   Visually
       
    Impaired & Disabled
 $2,965,000  $2,567,000  $2,567,000  $2,965,000
         
 All Library Services
       
 Appropriations Total
 $90,885,000  $61,102,000  $60,860,000  $105,388,500

While our long-term funding goals are ambitious, PaLA’s goals for the forthcoming 2015-16 state budget are straightforward:

  • Spell out the level of support that we believe is needed—at a minimum—to operate our libraries effectively in the long run, and lay that groundwork this year for improvements in subsequent years; and,
  • Seek increased funding this year—to the highest levels possible—for all four appropriations (with the Public Library Subsidy as the top priority) as “good faith down payment” toward PaLA’s long-term goals designed to strengthen library services across the board, and expand our ongoing literacy commitment that will move PA Forward.

It only takes a few minutes to send a message to Governor Wolf and your state legislators. Take Action Now. You can send the message as is, or edit it to fit your local circumstances.

Thank you for making your voice heard this year as we build a strong foundation for the future.

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State Budget First Step: Wolf Proposes Status Quo for Libraries

Posted By Glenn R. Miller, Tuesday, March 3, 2015

 

The first step in what likely will be a long state budget process took place today as new Governor Tom Wolf unveiled his first budget draft, a plan for Fiscal Year 2015-16 which begins on July 1. 

 

For libraries, funding for library line items remains pretty much status quo.  The total amount proposed for all library programs in Governor Wolf’s first budget is $60.8 million down slightly from this year’s total amount of $61.1 million.   Specifically, here’s what the Governor proposes for library programs for next year:

  • $53,507,000  Public Library Subsidy   ( level-funded )
  • $  2,821,000  Library Access   ( down $250,000 / - 8.1 % )
  • $  2,567,000  Library Services for the Visually Impaired and Disabled   /  ( level-funded )
  • $  1,965,000  State Library   ( up $8,000 / + 0.4 % )

 

The Governor’s plan raises spending overall by 2.7% while raising some taxes (Personal Income Tax proposed to go up from 3.07% to 3.7%; Sales Tax proposed to go up from 6% to 6.6%) and lowering other taxes (property taxes and business taxes—Corporate Net Income Tax; Capital Stock and Franchise Tax.)

 

Every state budget contains lots of moving parts.  Every new governor starts out ambitiously with a large dose of optimism.  We applaud the Governor for mentioning specifically the need for greater student access to school libraries, and we will work with the administration and legislature to address Pennsylvania’s library deficit across the board, now and for however many years it may take.  PaLA’s Legislative Committee meets on Monday, March 9, to map out an advocacy strategy and message.  We will be seeking increased funding this year and those details will be shared next week. 

 

This budget process will take a while to sort out and the legislature controlled by the opposite party from the governor is sure to do lots of “sorting out” before we reach a final budget.  In the meantime, several things to bear in mind:

1.      We’re in this for the long haul.  Advocacy takes time.  The governor has been in office for 43 days so we will have many opportunities in the weeks and months ahead to highlight for the governor—and our legislators—how libraries can be key assets in solving many of Pennsylvania’s challenges.

2.      This is just the first step in a long process.  What was presented today will be re-shaped—perhaps dramatically—by the legislature.  Not only will PaLA be seeking increased state support but we’ll also be mindful of other changes—such as reduced property taxes—than could impact local library resources.

3.      Your advocacy locally and your relationship with your state senator and state representative will be vitally important as this process goes forward.  Your voice will be critical to insure that level-funding, at a minimum, not be at risk in any negotiations to make budget ends meet.

 

PaLA will develop the specifics of a plan and strategy, and your partnership in advocacy this year will be essential.  More details on all of this to come. 

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NEW! Urge Your Library Users to Easy-Click Connect with Gov. Wolf

Posted By Glenn R. Miller, Wednesday, February 4, 2015

We received a request for a sample email message to Governor Wolf that libraries could share with their customers.  This is a great suggestion.  We’ve placed a sample email message on our website here that you can copy and paste and edit and use in whatever way works best for you.  Or, you can share this link with people and they can easily follow it directly to a draft email that can be edited and sent in a snap, or just sent as is.  

 

We are off to a good start with our outreach efforts to Governor Wolf.  Some of you did send an email last week and to you we say thanks. 

 

But we really need to crank up the volume.  We need your help today—to build a strong library voice as our new governor begins to shape his education plans and budget.

 

If you did not take action last week, please take a minute and do it now.  Send Governor Tom Wolf a message of welcome and an offer of assistance from libraries as he strives to improve education for all Pennsylvanians.  (This sample email easily can be edited and localized to best fit your library.)

 

Either way, lots of emails at this early stage can help to keep us visible, and remind the Governor and his staff that libraries are a key part of solving the education challenges that Pennsylvania faces.

 

Click here to send an email from your library’s perspective.

Click here to send an email from a library user’s perspective.

 

Thank you so much for taking a few minutes to make your voice heard.

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NEW! One-Click Action to Build a Foundation with Gov. Wolf

Posted By Glenn R. Miller, Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Will you help us to lay a strong foundation with our new governor, Tom Wolf? 

 

We know from the campaign that improving education is a key goal for the new governor.  We also know that governor has first-hand experience working with public and academic libraries in his home county of York. 

 

It seems to me that our first job this year is to emphasize how vital library services are to a successful educational environment, and to offer the governor our assistance in rebuilding and reshaping education in Pennsylvania.

 

Please take a minute to send Governor Tom Wolf a message of welcome and an offer of assistance from libraries as he strives to improve education for all Pennsylvanians. 

 

There will be time later—after he presents his budget plan in March—to focus on specific programs and budgets.  For now, I urge you to contact the Governor with this message, or take this message and re-shape it to include your local perspective.  Either way, lots of emails at this early stage can help to keep us visible, and remind the Governor and his staff that libraries are a key part of solving the education challenges that Pennsylvania faces.

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to click here and make your voice heard.

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Library Advocates Hit the Ground Running in 2015

Posted By Cathi Alloway & Jennifer Stocker, Friday, January 16, 2015

Library Advocates Hit the Ground Running in 2015

Happy New Year!  The PaLA Legislative Information Committee is here to support your library’s 2015 advocacy activities.  Pennsylvania has a new Democratic governor, different faces and leadership in the Republican majority in the legislature, and a projected budget gap, so this will be a particularly challenging year.  We will present a strong case to decision makers about the benefits of library services and the need for better funding, but we can’t do this work WITHOUT YOUR HELP as we speak with ONE VOICE. 

Advocacy is a year-round job, and it’s about building good relationships with leaders.  In January and February, we urge you to do the following:

Inform new trustees, Friends, donors and supporters about PaLA and our work to define an annual legislative message and strategy for state funding. Information is at www.palibraries.org under the “Take Action” tab, including “Library Advocacy 101” tips.   Make sure they have contact info for their federal, state and municipal elected officials and leaders.

Reach out to your local state legislators (find them at
http://www.palibraries.org/?page=State  OR

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/) and thank them for their support. 

You may also want to congratulate those who have been elected to new leadership roles in the House and Senate.  A list of the State Senate leaders is here: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/senate/officers.cfm

A list of the State House leaders is here:  http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/house/officers.cfm

Valentine’s Day is not far off and it’s a good opportunity to send a thank you card to your state and municipal elected officials for their hard work.   Bookplate a children’s book in their honor for an extra touch of goodwill. 

Stay tuned for monthly blog posts as well as regular updates from the Committee, and thanks for your involvement!

 

Legislative Information Committee Co-Chairs for 2015:
Jennifer Stocker, Easton Public Library, is PaLA first vice-president/president-elect. 
Cathi Alloway, Schlow Centre Region Library, is a past president of PaLA.

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