Texas Libraries In Fight For Their Lives As Deep Funding Cuts Loom

Texas libraries are in danger as the legislature considers cutting key programs at the heart of what academic libraries, public school libraries, and public libraries offer to every citizen of Texas. Library advocates are fighting back with a statewide campaign to save Texas libraries by demanding that legislators restore funding, including a public rally sponsored by the Texas Library Association planned at the State Capitol April 13 at 4 p.m., where hundreds of supporters will literally beat drums on behalf of libraries.

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“The cuts mean total decimation of library programming in Texas,” says Pat Smith, executive director of the Texas Library Association.

Austin, TX (PRWEB) March 31, 2011

The first draft of the state’s budget eliminated state funding for libraries, cutting key programs at the heart of what academic libraries, public schools, and public libraries offer students, faculty, and every citizen of Texas. Library advocates are fighting back with a statewide campaign to save Texas libraries by demanding that legislators restore funding, including a public rally sponsored by the Texas Library Association planned at the State Capitol April 13 at 4 p.m., where hundreds of supporters will literally beat drums on behalf of libraries.

While lawmakers are considering a small, but important, restoration of funds to one program, the total cut to state funding remains about $30 million. And as a result of the withdrawal of state funds, Texas also stands to lose an additional estimated $8 million in federal funds over the 2012-13 biennium.

“The cuts mean total decimation of library programming in Texas,” says Pat Smith, executive director of the Texas Library Association. “The proposed loss of funding will be devastating to public, school and academic libraries, impacting staff, programs, print and digital resources and hours of operation.”

Library advocates are fighting back by contacting legislators, local elected officials, and boards of regents to demand that funding for libraries be restored. “We cannot say we believe in a strong Texas—in promoting education, economic development, and a competitive workforce—if we decrease investment in the very institutions, resources, and staff who equalize learning opportunities for everyone in Texas,” Smith says.

The first draft of the state budget called for a complete withdrawal of state funds for the TexShare program, which provides college students with access to thousands of online journals and reference and research materials. Although some legislators have recommended a partial restoration of some funds to the program, more than 60 percent of state funds would still be eliminated if current proposals become law.

Other library programs on the chopping block are the Loan Star Libraries Grants, which delivers direct state aid to almost all of Texas’ more than 500 local public libraries. The state has eliminated all funding for this critical program, which is used to help libraries stay open longer, upgrade equipment, and provide support services for students, distance learners, and job-seekers. The state is also proposing the complete elimination of the K-12 Database Program, the K-12 equivalent of TexShare, which allows students in all Texas public schools to have access to same high quality online content that will help them meet their course requirements and get ready for college.

The Save Texas Libraries campaign goal is for 100,000 people to get involved by contacting their legislators via http://www.txla.org/take-action, signing the petition to Save Texas Libraries at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/texas_libraries/, joining the Save Texas Libraries Cause on Facebook at http://www.causes.com/causes/584917 and taking part in the April 13 Rally, http://www.txla.org/rally.

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