Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Library Funding

Have you ever wondered how your local library is funded? "SNOOZE" may be your response, but if you want to keep your library, you might want to find out where the money comes from.

Russell County Public Library gets most of its funding from Russell County. The library makes an annual request and the Board of Supervisors allocates money to the library when they approve their annual budget, usually in late spring. The funds allocated by the county are about 75% of the library's budget. That's why the cut in funds in July made such an impact.

The library also receives money from state. The State Aid to Libraries program is administered by the Library of Virginia. State aid is by definition supplemental and is based on how much local support the library receives. It's a carrot and stick approach. The rules say if the locality gives the library more money, then the library gets more state aid. If the locality reduces money given to the library, then state aid can be withheld or reduced. The motivation is to keep funding at least level; if the library local funding is reduced, a library can typcially keep state aid if every agency also had a cut. State aid comprises about 20% of the library's budget. Learn more at http://www.lva.virginia.gov/lib-edu/LDND/state-aid/

The library also receives funding from some towns, like Lebanon, as well as from grants. Most grants are like the e-rate grant--they can only be used for very specific things and typically can't be used for staffing. The Friends of the Library act like a booster club; they traditionally have focused on sponsoring the summer reading program and other activities and services for children. And lastly, your fines and fees? We get to keep that money and it goes back into our budget.

What does all this mean to you? Think Local. Most of the library funding is from local sources. Your taxes are allocated by the supervisors to many agencies and departments, from education to the Sheriff's department. Contact your supervisors and tell them what you care about. Contact your town council members and tell them what services you want and need.

They will tell you that money is tight and we can't have it all. But they can only serve you well if you talk to them.