NYC: New Library Cuts for FY’12

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(Repost: http://savenyclibraries.org/)

On Thursday February 17, 2010, Mayor Bloomberg delivered his budget address for Fiscal Year 2012. The presentation cited $20 million dollars worth of cuts to our library systems in NYC, or an 8% decrease. If only that was the extent of the actual cut.

The figures cited for public libraries in FY’12 were based on Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2011, not the adopted budget that included City Council’s historic restoration of library funding, nor the actual budget that includes mid-year cuts.

The FY’12 budget presentation obscures the severity of the proposed cuts, which according to the Agency Projections given by the OMB here, here, here, and here, result in a $64.5 million difference from the actual budget for Fiscal Year 2011, even taking into account the 5.4% PEG reduction from November 2010.

Last year, NYC City Council’s Hearing Report on the FY’11 November Financial Plan raised the alarm of the immediate consequences of cuts of this magnitude, calling the 2012 Executive Plan,

“[E]ven more troubling, with a projected 22.5% cut in funding from the current level (including the November Plan PEGs). All 3 systems would face layoffs much larger than those projected by OMB in the November Plan, reductions in hours to as low as 2 to 3 days a week on average at branch libraries, and branch closures.”

However, they failed to grasp the long-term significance of recent and future library budget cuts:

If Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed FY’12 cuts are enacted, funding for New York City’s public libraries will have been reduced by 38% since FY’09.

At a certain point the question becomes: do we want to live in a city without libraries? What would that mean for New Yorkers? What would that say about New York as a city? What kind of city do we want to be?

As New Yorkers and Americans, we value freedom of expression, education, and access to information as inherent components of our core identity and values. Free public libraries allow us to better ourselves and improve our lives. When massive cuts are proposed that would radically underfund our public libraries, what is ultimately attacked is the ability of hardworking New Yorkers to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and improve their own lives and the lives of their children. Let’s not let that happen.

Study shows universities are more likely to get funding for research when investments in university libraries are high

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This week, Elsevier, publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and solutions, announced the results of an international study that demonstrates the value of the academic library to the institution in improving grant proposal and report writing as well as in helping researchers attract grant income. A first phase of the study was conducted as a pilot with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2008. In the pilot, a model for calculating a return-on-investment (ROI) ratio was developed. Phase 2 (results announced Monday) replicated and then refined the original model. “The results reinforce the contribution of libraries and information to the research enterprise,” notes Chrysanne Lowe, Elsevier’s Vice President of Customer Development and Engagement. “Universities have always known this, but it’s useful to see value articulated in terms of grant income ROI as well.”

Dr. Tenopir and Paula Kaufman, Dean of Libraries at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, are currently leading a team on a third phase of the study funded through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (“Lib-Value,” grant number LG-06-09-0152-09). This next phase will look at ways to measure the value, outcomes, and ROI for the full range of library products and services. The library’s contributions to functional areas of teaching and learning, research, and socialization will be identified and presented as a series of tools, reports, and literature reviews. “Return on investment in the grants process is one important and convenient way to quantify the value of the academic library, but it underestimates the total value of the library to the university,” says Dr. Tenopir.

Read the report (pdf):
University Investment in the Library, Phase II: An International Study of the Library’s Value to the Grants Process

Gulf of Mexico Oil Disaster Library Research Guides

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Photo: caitlin quinn. Boycott Pollution @ Coney Island's Mermaid Parade, 2010

Information on the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster is popping up everywhere. I am weary of much of it, particularly since BP has bought terms such as “oil spill” from search engine providers (including Google) to help direct Internet users to its website and thus attempting to control information pertaining to the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Here are a small handful of library research guides on the topic that I found helpful:

025.431: The Dewey blog
LSU Media Center
National Library of Medicine
Tulane University’s Louisiana Research Collection
Tulane University’s Earth & Environmental Sciences Research Guide

Google Books: A Monopoly on Access to Information?

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Over the past five years, Google has partnered with some of the world’s most famous research libraries to scan over seven million books. In 2005, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers filed lawsuits against Google challenging the company’s right to scan copyrighted material and making it searchable online. A $125 million settlement was reached last year, but it’s still awaiting court approval…

Amy Goodwin, of Democracy Now interviews Brewster Kahle, of Internet Archive on the Google lawsuit, the role of libraries and the implications of mass commercial digitization. Kahle is among critics concerned that Google, a private corporation, could end up with a monopoly on access to information and exclusive license to profit from millions of books.