The Big Picture–State of the States

NB: Any inaccuracies stated on this post is the author’s and should not be attributed to the individual representing the state libraries. Please contact the individual directly through the state library link for clarification or amplification on what was reported. JC

State Librarians of New England, or their representatives, did a round robin of the current happenings in the various states. The group also included ALA President James Rettig.

Some common themes ran throughout the presentations: 1. retirements of senior staff. In Vermont this includes the State Librarian; Head of Reference and Information Services; and the Adult Services Consultant. 2. Not enough $$$ for direct state assistant to public libraries. There are also State that do not have any assistance–Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire. 3. Some states increasing aid for construction. 4. Some states have initiatives for other things. Below are some State specific comments:

Vermont State Library–Marianne Kotch: Budget constraints forced State Library to absorb any uncontrollable costs such as fuel and electric into already static budget. The boom years of the Vermont Public Library Foundation grant funds of 10 million disbursed to public libraries has attracted some smaller grant funds from other foundations. $38,000 disbursed to 20 libraries this past year. The Vermont Library Association initiative for state funding will probably produce some results due to local libraries tapping out their local funding sources and the fact that they are facing larger demands for services from the public.

Rhode Island State Library-Howard Buxsunbaum– Constraints–$300 million state budget deficit is reducing the state work force and will have an impact on the State Library. However, support for local public libraries still ongoing. State Library has been experimenting with wiki’s and blogs for training purposes and communication. There has been a trend toward catalog consortium consolidation. Another initiative for the State Library has been putting all continuing education registration online. OLIS has also entered into a partnership with NELINET as a Consortial Sponsor.

Connecticut State Library–Sharon Brettschneider: Good news on the finance front with increased funds for the 7X24 hour reference services; increasing reimbursement support for the ConnectiCard ; increased support for digitizing the Hartford Courant;proposed increases in the public library bond bill from $3 million to $10 million.

Major achievement has been the revision of the library confidentiality statute: strengthening of the statute to include information in ANY format that may be linked to a library patron. Strengthened a definition of a public library.


Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners–Nancy Rea: Finances are a mixed bag. Good partnerships with MLA, local libraries, and state consortia, supporting a legislative agenda. There is a new line item for public libraries that privately fund raise, those libraries would receive a certain amount of matching funds from the state. Libraries got $.04/dollar raised. New construction monies proposed in a bond for $100 million over five years. State PR initiative to communicate the value of libraries to the general public. Nancy also noted a new annual report format.



Maine State Library–Bonnie Dwyer: Reported on the inadequacy of the current State Library building and attempts to have it expanded or rebuilt. Have been using other professional state conferences in Maine to promote Maine libraries. “Library Makeovers” is a very successful program to spruce up smaller libraries. Bring in state consultant plus library interior firm to suggest building and room reconfigurations on a dime. Reported that the van delivery system to augment ILL has in fact increased ILL traffic. Another sign of its success. Finances are not growing to meet demands. There is no state assistance for public libraries.


New Hampshire State LibraryJanet Eckland: Finances–No state assistance for public libraries. However, the moose license plate does generate income for preservation efforts in libraries and Town clerks’ offices. The biggest initiative this year has been the downloadable books 1.1 million NH residents now have access to this service. NH became the 50th state to receive a Center for the Book from the Library of Congress. Will be participating in the National Endowment for the Arts, Big Read program. Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 will be the community read.

NHSL has also hired a technology coordinator to adivse public and school libraries on technology.


American Library Association president, James Rettig: Mentioned the ALA Public Library Connectivity Project ALA has created an advocacy office to investigate the various forms of advocacy across all different types of libraries. This will provide an opportunity for ALA to take a broader view of what advocacy is. Look at public libraries in an integrated way, e.g., poor school libraries will translate into poorly prepared students coming to university libraries. Rettig also mentioned ALA’s Diversity Report. Diversity report: showing librarians in a aging, mainly white, mainly female profession. As society becomes more diverse ALA is lagging. IMLS grant is funding scholars for PhD programs. “We need to find ways of doing more.” Would like to bring all groups together who are studying diversity. Disproportional attrition from the field of librarians under 45. Why do we have people in their prime years leaving the profession?



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