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Library funding could fall victim to budget deficit

The state Legislature chose National Library Week to consider cutting $1 million in funding to libraries.

According to Garfield County Library director Jaci Spuhler, the Republican caucus has recommended the state cut $1 million of the State Grant for Libraries to help offset the state’s budget deficit.

The move was expected to be discussed and voted on in the state House today, Spuhler said.



If it passes, the cut would directly affect Garfield County’s six libraries, she said.

In 2001 and 2002, Garfield County libraries received grants of $12,600 and $12,247 respectively to fund the EBSCOhost online database. It gives library card holders online access to over 1,700 magazines, newspapers and current health care information.



The free online database has proved very popular with library patrons, Spuhler said.

In the last year, from March 2001 to March 2002, 4,164 searches were conducted and 6,362 magazine abstracts and 4,686 articles were read, Spuhler said.

EBSCOhost can be accessed either from home or from the library. If accessed from a home computer, the user simply goes to the Garfield County library web site, http://www.garfieldlibraries.org, clicks on the reference desk, then EBSCOhost, and enters his or her library card number to get into the database.

The grant allows the Garfield libraries to subscribe, online, to many more magazines and newspapers than they could afford otherwise.

In fact, 2001, the first year of the grant, “was the first time ever the state contributed to public libraries,” Spuhler said.

Even at the $11,800 cost, it’s a good deal.

“It costs us $12,000 to $13,000 a year for 250 magazine subscriptions,” Spuhler said. “What we’re getting with EBSCO is 1,700 magazines and newspapers for less than it costs for all our paper subscriptions.”

Money remaining from the grants was spent on books for the libraries’ collections, Spuhler said.

Without the grant it would be difficult for the county library system to fund the online system.

“Something would have to give to fund it. Once something like this is in place, we get to depend on it.

“It’s very discouraging,” she said of the pending cut.

Spuhler has written to Rep. Gregg Rippy protesting the move and said most of the librarians she knows have done the same.

But whether it will make a difference is uncertain.

“I’m not sure how many people are afraid of a bunch of librarians,” she said.

Contacted at the state House Monday, Rippy said the bill probably won’t have much support.

“I won’t support cutting library funds,” said.


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