05/14/06 — Libraries will ask state leaders for more funding

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Libraries will ask state leaders for more funding

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 14, 2006 2:03 AM

Wayne County Library director Jane Rustin and some of her counterparts across the state say members of the General Assembly need to take another look at the importance of libraries to their communities as they begin setting priorities for next year's budget.

Libraries across the state asked lawmakers to provide $4.7 million in additional income last year to accommodate increased expenses. State leaders responded by raising the funding by $1 million.

This year, they will ask for the remaining $3.7 million.

Ms. Rustin said the increase is not for frills. Increasing costs require more money just to allow the libraries to stay even with their budgets. Wayne County's portion of the additional funding request would be about $44,000 -- a small amount in proportion, but enough to make a difference, Ms. Rustin said.

Wayne County's libraries are close to the bottom in per capita funding from the state, she added.

"We can definitely use some help," Ms. Rustin said.

A lot of library costs are controlled, like electricity and building maintenance. But librarians have some discretion in spending money on items such as personnel and books.

These days, in addition to those traditional costs, libraries need extra money for DVDs, CDs and other materials.

And all of the libraries in Wayne County could use more public-access computers, Ms. Rustin said.

If state leaders decide to give the library more money, Ms. Rustin said library personnel will ask Wayne County residents to help determine where it is spent.

Some of the more popular programs include childhood literacy -- and materials to assist with job searches.

That could even include a resume.

"We use templates, and everything is on-line now," Ms. Rustin said.

And there are many success stories, she added.

"A man came in the other day, and the librarian was on break. He said, 'Tell them I got the job.'"

Ms. Rustin said hundreds of library supporters will converge on Raleigh this summer to talk about money. The librarians and library trustees, friends of the library organization members and anybody else who wants to come will meet on the mall near the Legislative Building June 7.

After a brief meeting, each local group will break away and visit its own legislative delegation.

Ms. Rustin said the group leaving from Goldsboro will meet at 8 a.m. and should be back at the main library on Ash Street by about 2 p.m.