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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, July 26, 2009

Hurricane Katrina, Ohio’s “PLF,” and the Great Recession of 2009

Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005. The general devastation in affected libraries happened during 2006, libraries reported in 2007 resulting in rating results in this year’s HAPLR ratings.

In the news this week, Ohio’s libraries, many of which receive most or all of their money from the state’s Public Library Fund (PLF), find that they will receive about a 30% reduction in funding. Better than the 50% cut they expected because of a magnificent effort to have citizens contact legislators, but bad enough.

The news is similar throughout the country, 20% cuts possible in Hawaii, sizeable reductions in Pennsylvania. The more state funding libraries receive the more that all libraries in a state are caught in the crossfire at once. But we are seeing comparable massive cuts, layoffs, and furloughs at local supported libraries everywhere.

The devastation of Katrina, with its loss of life and property cannot of course be compared to the devastation to libraries by budget cuts. But the resulting reductions in the ratings for Ohio’s long held high ratings will be severe.

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