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State Share of Library Funding Slated to Be Cut

March 12th, 2010 by Mike Vasilinda

Libraries across Florida are bracing for a 100 percent cut in state funding this year. If the decision sticks, libraries in smaller communities could be forced to close. And as Mike Vasilinda tells us, advocates are calling the cuts pound foolish.

We met Rita Johnson on her way into the Library to return some books and check out more. “I love the library” she says, so we asked her “Some would say the internet has replaced the library?” Her response: “No…just like they say the internet is replacing newspapers, no”.

But some libraries could be forced to cut their hours, their services and even their doors if a planned 8 million dollar plus state aid to libraries grant is eliminated.  Sarah Carroll from the Florida Association of Counties says the state could lose even more”. “And because we use that eight point four million dollars to draw down federal funds, for a total of twenty one point two million dollars. So this eight point four has a greater impact”, say Carroll.

On this day, there were a lot reasons to be in the library. “I’m writing a letter to a friend” is what a new arrival in town told us. “Oh, I just needed to print out some papers” said a young woman. Sung Ho was in town for an interview at FSU.  “I’m a tourist and I came here for a university interview, and I wanted to research the film school”, which he was doing online.  “I’m on the internet man, looking for jobs and things” was a response of more than one person.
The most recent statistics, and they are two yerass old, suggest that 85 million people a year visit a library in Florida. If lawmakers continue on the path of no money for libraries, Sarah Carrol says those in rural counties will likely close because “some counties, this is all the funding they actually receive”.

Lawmakers suggested the cuts in the final hours of the session last year, then backed down when a backlash hit. One difference between this year and last which does not bode well for library funding is that the budget is even tighter.

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