« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
7. That in the process, there be no abridgement of local control.”
Conference attendees generally agreed that while elements in this seven-point proposal "might seem to some to be excessive," there was no point in “watering anything down to make it more palatable."
Said one: “We're in a crisis stage. Yes, we are. The needs listed in our position paper are a minimum."
American Library Association executive director Robert Wedgeworth, an observer at the conference, noted that only about 1 percent of general Federal revenue sharing funds have gone towards the support of libraries.
“It's tough to compete with what the public sees as more pressing urban needs, like more firemen and policemen," he said.
Echoing Wedgeworth's feeling was Jack G. Duncan, counsel, Sub-Committee on Select Education, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, who also was a conference observer.
"Congress has to control the budget,” he said. “And when things are tight, just about the first thing to get swiped at are social services, including education. Unfortunately, but it's a fact of life-libraries have very little in the way of 'constitvent demand'. I would suggest that you make your case known as widely as possible."
Conference co-chairmen Gaines and George concurred: “That's exactly what we plan to do."
The conference's position paper was preceded by a background paper outlining reasons for the conference and stating that city librarians, trustees and academic librarians found themselves in accord on several points :
1. That the library crisis is not local or regional, but national in scope.
4. That if the crisis long continues, irreversible damage may be done to the national social fabric.
“We perceive that what is required is a program simple in design but profound in its implications,” the background paper says. "We trust that our declaration provides a field upon which we can deploy the forces for dynamic political action." 1. That the federal government reverse its policy of attempting to reduce federal aid to libraries;
(Park Rapids, Minn, Oct. 13-14, 1975)
CONFERENCE ON LIBRARY FUNDING
In 1970 the Congress of the United States established the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science. At that time the Congress affirmed “that library and information services adequate to meet the needs of the people of the United States are essential to achieve national goals."
We subscribe to that Congresisonal declaration. We also believe that the intent of Congress is not being met and that the time is at hand to give the words strength and substance.
Libraries are acknowledged on every hand to be crucial to the national welfare. Yet their capabilities are diminished daily by the fiscal crises of our cities and states. The largest and noblest of our libraries, as well as the smallest, are in jeopardy. The spreading crises threaten academic and public libraries alike.
National intervention is called for. Library service is indivisible and the social needs to which libraries answer are no respecters of age, wealth, educational attainment or geographical and political boundaries. The need for information is everywhere and simultaneous.
We think that library capability can be secured if the Congress will address itself to three areas of concern :
Direct assistance to every public and academic library ;
Particular assistance to key library resources at strategic locations in all parts of the nation ; Support for interlibrary communications systems and
sharing enterprises. We are firm in our conviction that the federal government must take the lead in 'prating the achievement of these objectives. To that end we propose the
2. That the federal government set as its goal, to be reached in a reasonable time, support to academic and public libraries equal to 20 percent of the cost of operation;
3. That the federal government establish incentives which will increase the share of our collective wealth that is assigned to support library and information services by 100 percent within the next decade ;
4. That federal appropriations be distributed to appropriate state agencies in proportion to the population, taking into consideration geographic factors of the distribution of that population, and that the states be required to do likewise within their boundaries;
5. That the states be required to give direct support to libraries, retaining only enough of federal revenues to develop the programs for communications systems and interlibrary flow of information ;
6. That states be required to raise their support levels to twice those of the federal funding;
7. That in the process there be no abridgement of local control.
For several years the Urban Libraries Council, a voluntary organization of libraries from urban centers of the nation, has been concerned about the failing effectiveness of city liba ries. To test that opinion and to try to determine whether the faltering capability of our nation's city libraries had spread, as the Council believed, beyond the borders of major cities and beyond public libraries, the Council called a conference at which all of us, the undersigned, were participants. The meeting was convened during two days, October 13 and 14, 1975, at Park Rapids, Minnesota.
The conferees, made up of city librarians, trustees and academic librarians, found themselves in accord on several major points :
1. That the library crisis is not local or regional but national in scope ;
4. That if the crisis long continues, irreversible damage may be done to the national social fabric.
We believe that we are representative of a wide spectrum of public opinion. Although few in number, we believe that we speak for many and that we can command the public opinion necessary to political action.
We perceive that what is required is a program simple in design but profound in its implications.
We have prepared a document which we trust meets the dual requirements of simplicity and profundity.
We are unanimous in endorsing this program. We pledge ourselves to promote it in every suitable forum, determined to take it to Congress in 1976, a symbolic year for the nation and for its libraries.
Two landmark pieces of legislation are due to expire in 1976—the Library Serv. ices and Construction Act and the Higher Education Act. We believe that these two acts should not expire, but we also believe that they must be transformed.
We trust that our declaration provides a field upon which we can deploy the forces for dynamic political action.
ATTENDEES Urban Libraries Council
Dr. Arthur C. Banks, President, Greater Hartford Community College, Hartford, Conn. 06106.
Randolph A. Brown, Secretary, Urban Library Council, Louisville, Ky. 40202.
Mrs. Mary Crisman, Director Emeritus, Tacoma Public Library, Tacoma, Wash. 98402.
Ervin J. Gaines, Director, Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland, Ohio 44114. Harold F. Herring, Trustee, Huntsville Public Library, Hunstville, Ala. 35801. Alex Ladenson, Chicago Public Library, Chicago, Ill. 60602.
Right Reverend Edward G. Murray, Vice Chairman, Urban Library Council, Cambridge, Mass. 02138.
Paxton Price, Librarian, St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis, Mo. 63103.
Warren A. Reeder Jr., Treasurer, Urban Library Council, Hammond, Ind. 46324.
Bruce D. Smith, Trustee, Minneapolis Public Library, Minneapolis, Minn. 55401. Academic and other public libraries
Melvin R. George, Library Director, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, Ill. 60625.
Roger K. Hanson, Library Director, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112.
Gustave A. Harrer, Library Director, University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla. 32611.
John A. Hudson, Librarian, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Tex. 76019.
W. Carl Jackson, Dean of Libraries, Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind. 47401.
Mrs. Clara Jones, Library Director, Detroit Public Library, Detroit, Mich. 43202. Joseph S. Komidar, Library Director, Tufts University, Medford, Mass. 02155.
Dr. Isaac T. Littleton, Library Director, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C. 27607.
Harry M. Rowe Jr., County Librarian, Orange County Public Library, Orange, Cal. 92668.
Hal B. Schell, Dean and Director of Libraries, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45221.
G. P. Stokes, Assistant Library Director, San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco, Cal. 94102.
Paul Vassallo, Library Director, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M. 87106. Guests of the conference
Jack G. Duncan, Counsel, Subcommittee on Select Education, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
Robert Wedgeworth, Executive Director, American Library Association, Chicago, Ill. 60611.
(Reprinted from the Wall Street Journal, Issue of Oct. 14, 1975)
PUBLIC LIBRARIES, HIT BY MONEY TROUBLES, DETERIORATE RAPIDLY
SYSTEMS LIKE CLEVELAND'S CUT HOURS, PUT OFF REPAIRS, FREEZE BOOK PURCHASES—
ONE WOE: SUBURBAN USERS
(By Rich Jaroslovsky) CLEVELAND.—Residents here like to call their public library “the most civilized spot in downtown Cleveland.'
Shoppers, students, clerks, secretaries, businessmen—all pass through the stately, 50-year-old building on a typical day. During the summer, many tote brown-bag lunches to eat in the library's outdoor garden as they read books or listen to soothing, piped-in classical music. Even on a gray autumn day, old men sit reading their newspapers, or retire indoors to the warmth of the stacks.
Lately, though, civilization has been in decline. The roof leaks, and paint and plaster are peeling. Many chairs and tables are old and shabby. And the elderly men must now seek warmth and quiet elsewhere after 6 p.m., and on Sundays.
Other signs of deterioration aren't as readily apparent. Departing personnel at the main library and its 35 branches usually aren't replaced. Wages are so low that as recently as last year, some employes earned less than the federal poverty standard. And new-book purchases for the system-which has the fourth largest municipal-library collection in the country-have been frozen several times for months at a stretch. "Urban institutions don't collapse overnight,” says Ervin Gaines, the library's director. "They crumble. And that's what's happening here."
A NATIONAL ASSET
Cleveland's isn't the only library system with major problems. Many of the nation's biggest and most respected urban libraries, faced with smaller budgets and higher costs, are finding it nearly impossible to make ends meet these days. Unless something is done soon, they warn, irreparable damage could befall what Mr. Gaines calls “one of our great national assets."
Public libraries are by now fixtures in most communities. The first ones were established in New England in the early 1800s, and there are now more than 7,000 systems throughout the country. Many big-city public libraries, founded for the most part in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, have grown into major research and cultural centers. These are the ones that now face the worst problems.
Many such systems have already felt stunning blows and are bracing for the possibility of more to come. For instance, the Chicago Public Library recently faced the prospect of a $1.5 million deficit by yearend, despite a cost-cutting program that included a hiring freeze, suspension of all new-book purchases and a reduction of 342 hours a week in the library's hours of operation.
At an emergency meeting with city officials, Mayor Richard Daley pledged funds to tide the system over until the end of the year. Beyond that, its prospects are uncertain. “Mayor Daley says we have to be optimistic, but frankly, I'm not to optimistic myself,” says David Reich, the city's chief librarian.
COSTLIER BOOKS AND MAGAZINES
In New York City, a plan proposed last year to close three of the system's 83 branches aroused strong protest from residents in the affected neighborhoods. The outcry helped keep the branches open, but the city's current fiscal crisis has forced the system to contemplate far more drastic measures. John Cory, director of libraries in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, estimates that the system's hours of operation and level of service have already been cut in half (some branches are now open only one or two days a week). He predicts that “a lot more than three branches" will have to be shut down next year.
Mr. Cory maintains that the city's financial crisis, while exacerbating the library's problems, "definitely didn't cause them." The library's troubles, he says, were brewing long before the city's financial plight became acute. “Our problems are the problems shared by all urban public libraries," he observes. “They just seem to reach a critical point here earlier than they do in the rest of the country.”
One of the biggest of those problems is inflation. The Cleveland library points out that book costs have risen between 20 percent and 50 percent in the past three years, while magazine and newspaper subscriptions are increasing by about 30 percent a year. Utilities, supplies, maintenance and labor also cost more, library officials note.
HOSPITAL WARDS OR LIBRARY BOOKS? At the same time, revenue is drying up. Most library systems rely on some form of property tax for the bulk of their funding, and they feel the pinch as tax-generating industry and residents flee cities for the suburbs. (A few libraries, like Cleveland's, also receive money from an "intangibles tax" on income from securities.) Even efforts to revitalize eroding inner cities offer litle immediate help, St. Louis librarian Paxton Price says. One reason is that redeveloped property is often a tax break, thereby reducing the amount of money from that source.
In cities that apportion tax dollars rather than earmarking a specific levy for library support, the library system must often compete for funds with more essential services. "If my kid gets hit by a car, I'd rather have another emergency hospital ward than another book in the library," says Kevin Starr, San Francisco's city librarian. As a result, he observes, "libraries are the DEW line of budget cuts, the first to go."
Moreover, many urban libraries bear the extra expense of operating a research collection of scholarly works, government documents and the like, in addition to the more widely circulated general or "popular" collection. "It's a library's research capabilities that sets it apart from others," says Cleveland's Mr. Gaines. “We're often the only place outside of a few universities that have this kind of specialized information."
As a result, residents of many suburbs and smaller cities—whose libraries don't share either their big brothers' woes or their resources—turn to the urban libraries for help. “The end result is that the Cleveland taxpayer has to pay for a suburban company that wants to know about pollution-control requirements," observes Mr. Gaines.
One way to equalize this burden, according to many urban library officials, would be a sharp increase in state and federal aid. "If education is a state and federal concern, so are libraries," Mr. Gaines declares. “It's reached the point where local jurisdictions are simply powerless to deal with many of the problems and inequities of the system.”
Even in Houston, where a booming economy and expanding tax base hare enabled the library system to nearly quadruple its budget since 1967, “things are bound to level off sometime," says David Henington, library director. “It's impossible to expect local government to continue full support indefinitely," he adds.
Some officials fear that an increase in outside funding would lead to increased outside control over how the funds are spent. “You have to retain an element of responsiveness to the people, which is best accomplished by local control," contends Philip McNiff, director of Boston's Library system. But he, too, agrees that outside money is needed. Even though Boston's system of partial state aid "is currently working very well," he says, a balanced system of local, state and federal funding would insure stability. “It's unreasonable to expect local taxpayers to support out-of-town users," he says.
While librarians endorse the principle of balanced funding, many don't think there's much chance of establishing such a system in the near future. San Francisco's Mr. Starr, for example, says it's unrealistic to expect much money from the states. “They're almost as bad off as we are,” he says. "They simply haven't got the money. The federal government is the only answer."
Yet this, too, promises to be a dry hole. Congress has appropriated $49.2 million for library aid under the Library Services and Construction Act this year, a figure that the Ford administration wants to see cut to $10 million. But many urban library officials are asking that the current appropriation be boosted to about $400 million within four years. New York City's Mr. Cory says, “Under this administration, the chance of an increase in federal aid is nil."
With help from outside channels increasingly unlikely, some big-city systems are again turning to their beleaguered local taxpayers. In Cleveland, for example, the library is seeking voter approval this November of a property-tax that would add an extra $4.1 million annually to its coffers for the next five years. A similar proposal was narrowly defeated last year, and Mr. Gaines says "further deterioration of the system is inevitable" if the current request loses. In St. Louis, Mr. Price says the library will have to seek a tax increase before the end of the decade. “Given the temper of the voters,” he adds, “I'm not sure we can win it.”
For others, the prospect is continual belt-tightening. In San Francisco, Mr. Starr says, “the best we can hope for is a holding pattern. Our book budget this year is $650,000, which is ridiculously low, but it's a miracle we got what we got.”
In New York, the situation may be grimmest of all. “At least for the next three years, the only forecast we can make is for continued attrition and shrinkage of quantity and quality of service,” Mr. Cory says. “Within a very short time, we'll be reduced to what can only be considered a token level of service."
At least some officials think the slide will be checked before most other city systems sink to that level. “It's not a question of building more research libraries. It's a question of saving the ones we've got,” Cleveland's Mr. Gaines says. “Despite the current climate. I just don't think the cities are ready to let us fall."
Mr. Starr agrees. "I think the prospects are good that something will eventually happen. American life is crisis-oriented. When the situation gets bad enough, the people will scream loud enough to put pressure on the local politicians, who'll put enough pressure on the federal government to get something done. My only hope is that libraries won't be too far gone when help does come."
Mr. BRADEMAS. Thank you very much, Dr. Gaines.
In your statement. you allude to the key recommendation of the report of your council that the Federal Government should provide approximately 20 percent of the funding for public libraries. What is that percentage today?
Mr. GAINES. Probably less than 5 percent, sir.
Mr. BRADEMAS. You also indicate that States should be stimulated through the LSCA to provide State aid to local libraries. Would you, in light of that recommendation, agree with Ms. Martin's recommendation that there be some limitation on the amount of money that States can expend from LSCA funds under title I for administrative costs, services and indirect costs?