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Tuesday, 6th April 2010

New Jersey: Public Libraries Expected to Slash Services Due to State Budget Cuts

Last week we highlighted and linked to an article about the possibility of major statewide budget cuts in New Jersey. Today, a little more info.

From the The Gloucester County Times/NJ.com Article:

The New Jersey Public Libraries system is faced with a deep hole to climb out of in the wake of Gov. Chris Christie's March 16 address on statewide budget cuts. The cuts total approximately 50 percent of their state aid and 74 percent of funding for services.

Among the cuts, many important services libraries provide are in danger of being lost completely to the inability to fund them any longer. Things like access to several electronic databases and interlibrary loaning will fall victim to the cuts, according to www.ilovenjlibraries.org, as will many libraries' access to the Internet and e-mail services.

Additionally, The Talking Book and Braille Center, the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, will be closed, the Web site says.

[There Goes Some?/All? of the Electronic Databases]

One of the most important features that will be eliminated is access to electronic databases. [I Love New Jersey Libraries specifically mentions RefUSA and EBSCO]. Libraries no longer maintain extensive magazine collections, according to Donna Bensen Kennedy, the Gloucester County Library System's Mullica Hill Branch Manager. E-databases allow users to quickly and efficiently find necessary or relevant information from magazine articles or papers online, like Googling, but without all the unrelated material and spam.

[Unfortunately, we've seen this coming for a couple of years. Not only will library users and librarians be out of luck and out of access but we wonder what the elimination of databases at the state and local levels mean (in the short term and the long term) for the vendors who provide them if other states and libraries also begin to cut this service?]

"For the Fiscal Year of 2011, which begins July 1, we had to balance a budget deficit of $10.7 billion," said Michael Drewniak, Governor's Office Press Secretary. "Unfortunately, cuts occurred in just about every line item on the budget. Cutbacks were needed and programs had to be eliminated...It was not something we did by choice; we were compelled to do it. Once we can find our balance, we hope to return to a more modest spread of funding for everyone."

[Snip]

"People started losing their jobs, they didn't buy books anymore. They came to the libraries. They didn't rent DVDs anymore, they came to the libraries. And when they began looking for jobs? They would come to the libraries," [Donna Bensen Kennedy, the Gloucester County Library System's Mullica Hill Branch Manager] said. "Libraries are so important to people, and all the services that we depend on the state to provide, won't be here anymore."

Source: The Gloucester County Times (via NJ.com)
Hat Tip: D.D.


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