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General revenue sharing as a substitute for LSCA
Since 1973, when then-President Nixon first articulated a new federal library policy--that of terminating the Library Services and Construction Act—this philosophy has been repeated annually in the President's budget, first President Nixon's then President Ford's. Library service is essentially a state and local responsibility, these two Administrations have said, and "with the increasing availability of general revenue sharing funds, states and localities will be able to continue the most promising projects and programs formerly supported by federal categorical assistance."
In this connection, the U.S. Office of Education informed the Senate Appropriations Committee last spring that some $82 million in general revenue sharing had been devoted to library purposes in fiscal year 1974 alone. These figures were provided by the U.S. Office of Revenue Sharing.
We cannot dispute such statistics, nor are we able to confirm them with our own surveys. We do, however, question their meaning, for we know that a great gap exists between what is reported on the Office of Revenue Sharing's data collection forms and what eventually happens at the state or local level. We recently learned from the California State Library, for example, that one county library is being required to return all of its general revenue sharing ($400,000) with the statement that it was a loan. Two city libraries have had to return portions of theirs ($285,000 and $116,000).
The greater problem with respect to general revenue sharing as a source of library support, however, is that local governmental units tend to budget expenditures from commingled resources, that is, combining their resources from all sources (property taxes, sales taxes, fines and service charges, licenses and permits, general revenue sharing, etc.), they then make allocations to a variety of budget expenditure categories, one of which may be libraries.
In response to the Administrations' contention that general revenue sharing support for libraries indicates LSCA is outmoded and no longer needed, we would refer them to a recent report to Congress from the Comptroller General* which notes that the interchangeable nature of money can nullify the meaning of a report which relates specific expenditures to a specific source of revenue, such as revenue sharing.
Many of the state library administrative agencies have kept statistics on the amount of revenue sharing libraries throughout the state have received. Some libraries have benefited from the program. The Tulsa City/County Library System, which I direct, has indeed been fortunate in this regard. Many more libraries, however, have not benefited from the program. Increasingly we are finding that libraries receiving general revenue sharing are in fact receiving no more than they previously received from state or local sources. In many cases, general revenue sharing is not stimulating new services to unserved groups such as the handicapped or bilingual—both priorities of LSCA. It is instead providing the kind of general operating support that had in prior years been provided by the local government.
In short, although general revenue sharing has benefited some libraries both in establishing new programs and in the construction of new facilities, there is great disparity in library development fostered by this federal program. Libraries in some communities are strengthened by general revenue sharing, but libraries in many others are totally ignored by general revenue sharing. The Library Services and Construction Act is a coordinated program for statewide and interstate development of library service. It is a valuable program that must be continued.
We believe that extension of the Library Services and Construction Act is the most realistic way at this time to assist the states and localities in extending library services and facilities to the unserved, to promote interlibrary cooperation and improved service to all Americans. We look forward to obtaining a much more accurate picture of the nation's library needs and resources as a result of the White House Conference on Library and Information Services. Thank you for your attentive interest, and for the opportunity to present testimony on behalf of the American Library Association. I will be glad to provide further information or answer any questions you might have.
4 "Revenue Sharing: An Opportunity for Improved Public Awareness of State and Local Government Operations," Report to the Congress by the Comptroller General of the United States, Sept. 9, 1975 (GAO No. GGD-76-2).
SURVEY OF STATE LIBRARY AGENCIES ON LIBRARY CONSTRUCTION-PRELIMINARY REPORT (The States report that approximately 226 library construction projects could be started by July 1, 1975 (col. 1); an addi
tional 224 projects could be underway by Jan. 1, 1976 (col. 2); 293 more could start by July 1, 1976 (col. 3) if LSCA Il is funded in fiscal year 1975. An additional 766 projects are needed over the next 2 to 3 years (col. 4)]
Source: American Library Association, Washington office.
STATEMENT OF JOHN A. HUMPHRY, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER
FOR LIBRARIES, NEW YORK STATE LIBRARIES, ALBANY, N.Y.
Mr. HUMPHRY. My name is John Humphry. I am assistant commissioner for libraries, New York State Education Department, responsible for administration of the Library Services and Construction Act in New York State. I am also a past president of the Association of State Library Agencies, a division of the American Library Association. I am speaking in support of the extension of the Library Services and Construction Act.
On behalf of the library community of the Nation, the Association of State Library Agencies and the American Library Association, I wish to express deep appreciation to you and the other Members of Congress for your support of the Library Services and Construction Act during the past 20 years.
You have heard through your constituents, the Washington Office of the American Library Association and, of coure, through your own official reporting channels, of the greatly increased opportunities for the intellectual advancement of our citizens which this Act has made possible. We as a profession understand that there is need to assess and evaluate any ongoing activity and service, but in the interest of retaining progress already made, we recommend extension of the Act now with a few revisions. At the same time we must be receptive to its longer-term review, and possible revision, for the following reasons.
The National Commission on Libraries and Information Science has commissioned a review of the results of the act. Some States, including New York, have begun planning for governors' conferences in anticipation of a hoped-for White House Conference on Libraries. Such meetings will provide forums for assessment and evaluation as well as to help create greater awareness on the part of the public of the useful role of our libraries, but we cannot expect realistically to tabulate such results in the immediate future. Therefore, there is a rationale for recommending concurrent actions, short term and long term, that are nevertheless coordinate and compatible.
First, I respectfully recommend that the concept of forward funding be applied to this act, as it has been in other areas of education legislation. Long delays between enactments and receipt of funds pose extremely difficult problems for efficient planning. I am convinced that forward funding can produce economies as well as more effective use of appropriations and administration.
Second, the critical needs of urban libraries must be recognized. In the fiscal years 1971-75, approximately 45 percent of all LSCA title I funds allocated to New York State have been disbursed to our five metropolitan areas in the form of project grants. We need additional funds so that greater amounts can be allocated to those cities whose populations comprised a certain percentage of the State's total population. We need to rethink this LSCA support so that our emphasis is less on short-term projects and is focused more on using LSCA funds to assure that library services will be available to people in these cities over the long term.
Third, equally important is the continued development of effective systems and networks of libraries and information sources. LSCA funds have initiated and extended library service in large areas of many States, including rural areas in which people lacked access to the library services they need.
In recent years the States and local communities have taken a broader and more systematic anproach to library services, one in which bookmobiles, books, staff, and other resources are shared on a multicounty basis to serve readers regardless of where they live.
In Ohio, for instance, this year libraries in 73 of the 88 counties participate in multicounty systems. The nine systems now include 64 percent of the State's public libraries and serve 46 percent of the State's population. In fiscal year 1976 these systems are assisted by $1,304,360 in LSCA ($1,003,360) and State aid ($301,000) funds. The Ohio system development more than tripled since 1970, when LSCA extension was last considered by this committee. In 1970 $72,287 in LSCA funds assisted two systems involving 21 libraries--or 8 percent of Ohio's libraries-in 17 counties.
LSCA funds are helping similar library systems' development in many other States across the Nation, including for instance North Carolina, Indiana, Texas, and Montana.
These developments point up the need for another type of action: State funds for library services. Twenty-five years of system development in New York State has proved the importance of state aid for library services. I suspect that the State and National White House conferences will show the need in most States for LSCA and expanded State aid funds to be used together to provide the library services people need.
Fourth, I recommend that a statutory limitation be placed on the use of funds provided under the act, perhaps 10 to 15 percent, for state administration and indirect costs, thereby helping preserve and advance the program objectives of the act. In view of the findings of the review of the act by the General Accounting Office, this recommendation takes an appropriate validity. At the same time, consideration should be given to the addition of a provision to insure that Federal funds will not replace or be substituted for responsible State support of the functions of the State library agency. States should be given leadtime of 2 to 3 years to meet such a requirement.
I wish to thank you for your attention and interest. I shall be glad to try to answer any questions you might have.
Mr. BRADEMAS. Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF EDWARD 0. EKMAN, JR., TRUSTEE, NORTH
KINGSTOWN FREE LIBRARY, R.I.
Mr. EKMAN, My name is Edward O. Ekman, Jr., and I have been a trustee of the North Kingstown Free Library since October 1969. I have been a registered architect in Rhode Island since 1964 and have been in business as an architect since that time. I am appearing here today on behalf of the American Library Association.
I am fully aware of the importance of libraries as I have participated in the construction of several, including being building committee chairman of the new $1,300,000 library in North Kingstown. Of the $1.3 million, $109,349 are Federal funds and $540,561 are State funds. Rhode Island law permits the State to contribute up to 50 percent of the construction funds, with a funding provision which allows payment over 20 years.
When I came into the library scene in fiscal 1965, there had been almost no public library construction for decades. With the impetus of Federal funds this picture changed and Rhode Island now has accomplished more than $6 million worth of public library construction in the last decade.
Since I come to you directly from the dedication in North Kingstown yesterday of a new public library building which had the support of Federal funds from LSCA title II, I am most willing to testify on behalf of the extension of this legislation.
Although Rhode Island is one of very few States which has State funding for public library construction, I agree with the Department of State Library Services that Federal funding for this purpose has made all the difference. In case after case, a modest amount of Federal funding has led the State to pick up its share according to our law.
You may be interested to know that since fiscal 1965, the first year of the LSCA title II construction program, Rhode Island has been engaged in public library building projects which amount now to $6,384,776. Of this, the Federal grants have amounted to $1,252,253, a relatively modest share, and yet often an amount which has readily elicited State funds, as I have said.
The new Federal requirements for all buildings, mandated in the Occupational Safety and Health Act are indeed necessary, but are costly to the local community. Therefore, it is more important than ever that LSCA title II funding be continued to assist in the construction of library buildings which must meet these Federal requirements. Federal involvement and funding have been most helpful in increasing awareness of the needs of the handicapped at the State and local levels. Architectural barrier free construction has been the rule in public library construction in Rhode Island.
Turning from construction to the other provisions of LSCA, I should like to point out that Federal money for library service has made an enormous difference to the State of Rhode Island. This is true even though local and State appropriations have advanced significantly.
In fiscal 1965 Federal moneys were 50 percent of the budget of the department of state library services. The State has taken up this challenge and over the years the proportion has shifted so that today operating moneys for the department are 70 percent State funds and 30 percent Federal funds. Nevertheless, these Federal funds are exceedingly important. In our State, Federal funds do produce State funds, and these Federal funds have added the positive factor of giving the State some direction toward Federal goals.
At the same time I should like to point out that the per capita amount of local appropriations for public libraries in Rhode Island in fiscal 1965 was 97 cents. The current figure for fiscal 1975 is $3.24 per capita. This increase is 234 percent. Rhode Island is one of the New England States which has virtually abandoned counties. Consequently, there is no level of county funding and this increase must come directly from the cities and towns, in some of them through town meetings.
North Kingstown with its 1970 census population of 29,793 has a library which serves in the middle range among the libraries of Rhode Island, not as large, of course, as Warwick or Providence, or as small as Burrillville or Little Compton. Therefore, our library is very close to the people which it serves. I should like to be very definite in my support of legislation that helps libraries of all sizes as components of an interrelated library system.
Rhode Island has created a very effective network of all types of libraries. This State is divided into five interrelated library systems. Our library benefits immensely from such system activities as interlibrary loan, rotating collections or bulk loans, workshops and continuing education, and other regional and statewide efforts.