The House Budget (fy2019) and MLS Long-Term Sustainability

The House Ways and Means budget for fy2019 was published on April 11.  This budget provides a 1.33% increase to budget line 7000-9401 State Aid to Regional Libraries which provides appropriations to fund the Massachusetts Library System and the Library for the Commonwealth at the Boston Public Library.

We appreciate this increase but we must be clear that increases at this level are not sufficient for MLS’ long-term sustainability.   The Library Legislative Agenda for fy2019 recommends a 3% increase for this budget line.  This level of funding is sufficient for MLS’ long-term sustainability.

LATE BREAKING NEWS! 

Representatives Rushing of Boston, Higgins of Leominster, Murray of Milford, Peake of Provincetown, Walsh of Framingham, Fernandes of Falmouth, Garlick of Needham, O’Day of West Boylston, Dooley of Norfolk and Gifford of Wareham move to amend the bill to boost funding for MLS and LFC by 3%.  Amendment #789 to H4400.  This boost would keep MLS on the path to long-term sustainability and allows MLS to consider reducing cost sharing for hold/return sorting.

We’ve posted information below about our two most heavily used services:  Databases/eBooks and Delivery that describe the ramifications of insufficient funding for your information.

 

Databases and eBooks

MLS provides funding and support for statewide databases that are heavily used by school children and statewide eBooks that are in demand in public libraries.  Massachusetts residents download more than 8 million articles each year from the databases, and MLS is poised to release its new and improved eBook program for libraries.

Sadly, MLS has also had to reduce funding for both programs.  Due to increases in the state minimum wage and rising health care costs that caused a severe shortfall in its delivery service, MLS has already had to make significant cuts including a 60% reduction in databases spending and a 33% reduction in eBook spending last July.  Most libraries were unable to replace the lost content with their own limited funds.

In order to keep pace with rising costs and to put the brakes on fees that erode the equity of library services, MLS needs adequate funding to keep pace with inflation.  A 3% increase to Line 7000-9401 would save MLS from having to raise additional fees or make additional cuts to critical services that are so valued by libraries and library users.

MLS also provides many other important services to libraries in the Commonwealth including a statewide delivery service; professional development for library staff to help libraries stay on the cutting edge; and support for the statewide summer library program that connects children and adults to reading and lifelong learning.

Funding for 7000-9401 also goes toward important statewide library programs and services from the Library for the Commonwealth.  These include electronic resources available to anyone in the Commonwealth with a Boston Public Library eCard, digitization services to preserve our rich cultural heritage and many more valuable services!

 

Delivery

MLS funds a statewide delivery service for 525 libraries in the Commonwealth that helps library users to borrow more than 7 million items each year!  This is a critical service to library users and especially helps to ensure that all residents, regardless of the town they call home, have equal access to books, music, DVDs and more.  This service saves libraries $35 million in postage!

Costs for delivery are on the rise!  Due to increases in the state minimum wage and rising health care costs that well-exceed funding, MLS has already had to make significant cuts including the elimination of 125 stops and a freeze on adding new libraries to the service.  In addition, we will soon be imposing fees on the highest volume libraries for hold/return sorting services.  Without adequate funding, MLS will be forced to impose fees and other restrictions on more libraries that use this service.  This will undoubtedly affect libraries that serve rural, urban and economically disadvantaged communities the most.

In order to keep pace with rising costs and to put the brakes on fees that erode the equity of library services, MLS needs adequate funding to keep pace with inflation.  A 3% increase to Line 7000-9401 would save MLS from having to raise additional fees or make additional cuts to this service that is so critical and so valued by libraries and library users.

MLS also provides many other important services to libraries in the Commonwealth including funding, training and support for the statewide databases program heavily used by school children; professional development for library staff to help libraries stay on the cutting edge; and support for the statewide summer library program that connects children and adults to reading and lifelong learning.

 

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