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Racine, Wisconsin, United States
We (my wife and I) are celebrating the 11th Anniversary of HAPLR, and more importantly, our 38th Anniversary. The HAPLR system uses data provided by 9,000 public libraries in the United States to create comparative rankings. The comparisons are in broad population categories. HAPLR provides a comparative rating system that librarians, trustees and the public can use to improve and extend library services. I am the director of Waukesha County Federated Library System.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What Will 50% Proposed Budget Cuts do to Ohio Libraries?

First answer?

Very bad things, of course. But it will take time.

For library users the impact will be nearly immediate, of course.

For the HAPLR ratings, one can predict a number of things, but the results will take longer to see.

Cuts in 2010 will not show up until the data are published by IMLS in 2012. That will have an impact on the HAPLR Ratngs in 2013.

Furthermore, budget cuts will mean reductions in such things as circulation and visits to a library but it takes a while for the funding reductions to result in reduced library use.

In no other state are libraries as dependent on State funding as in Ohio. It is not at all unusual for a library to be 80% or more funded by the state. So state funding cuts of 50% will mean cuts of 40% or more for many Ohio libraries. That level of funding reduction can only mean major reductions in staffing, materials, and hours open in Ohio libraries.

Long story short?

What the Ohio Legislature decides this month will affect the ratings of Ohio libraries through 2015 and very far beyond.

The state that dominated HAPLR ratings for a decade (a quarter of all HAPLR top ten libraries were in Ohio) will likely fade and fade fast.

Library users in Ohio are rallying and letting their legislators know about library services, however, so perhaps the Buckeye state will continue to rule the HAPLR ratings after all.

Time will tell.

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