The public library now, more than ever, has become an integral part of the infrastructure of the community. Traditional services remain in place. Books circulate, copies are made, and reading is a central focus. Still the library has grown in a technological world to provide even more opportunities. Many employers will only accept online applications. Training and testing for jobs occurs in many public libraries across West Virginia. In difficult economic times the library provides critical access to technology for the citizens who cannot afford to maintain their own.
Even as library use is exploding, many libraries are facing cuts. The most recent loss came through Gov. Manchin's line item veto. State budget support for public libraries is delivered on a per capita basis. The initial budget proposal reduced the funding by over 5 percent. Libraries worked with the Legislature and the proposed cut was restored. However, in his message of March 25, 2010 Governor Manchin line item vetoed $417,444 of the grants to public libraries. This will reduce per capita grants from $4.61 to $4.38.
The result for the Shepherdstown Public Library is shortfall from the state of $3,247 for fiscal year 2011. Combined with cuts in local funding at the county level of 5 percent for FY11, the total shortfall will be $6,157. This is a serious cut for our small operating budget.
The state's public libraries rank 51st in the nation in total funding support for their operation. Across West Virginia there is a great deal of discussion about increasing the educational levels of our citizens, economic development and diversifying our state's economy and preparing the workforce for the 21st century. Public libraries are a critical contact point for each of these needs. In a volatile economy priorities must be set. Will some cuts have to be made? Of course, but cutting public library services that assist the West Virginia citizens through the economic downturn and beyond is not the answer. Please contact Governor Manchin and request funding restoration for the public libraries.
Hali Taylor, Director
Shepherdstown Public Library