Louisiana Eliminates State Funding for Libraries – What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Louisiana Cuts Library Funds

 

Louisiana Cuts Library FundsThe The LA Times Blogs reports that Governor Bobby Jindal has signed a budget that will eliminate state funding from its library systems.

“In tight budget times, we prioritized funding for healthcare and education. Operations such as local libraries can be supported with local, not state dollars,” the governor’s chief budget aide, Paul Rainwater, said.

Reports show that the state’s smaller parishes will struggle to replace the state funds and will need to severely cut library

One of those parishes is Concordia, located on the Louisiana-Mississippi border. Library Journal spoke to the Concordia Parish Library‘s director, Amanda Taylor.

“There’s no longer a food stamp office; there’s no longer a social security office. In our rural parish, a lot of our people have low literacy skills and very few computer skills. They come to the library because all of that has to be done online. There are some offices in some bigger areas but there’s no mass transportation and a lot of our people do not have transportation to a place that’s two hours away. A lot of our people have children in the military and they come to email their children that are all over the world on these bases. And almost all of the companies require you to do a job application online, even if it’s just for a truck driver who doesn’t need to be great at computer skills, so it is very important that we offer this service.”

Concordia formerly got $12,000 per year from the state, which it used to “keep up all of the maintenance [on its 52 PCs], buy new software, and to buy new equipment as needed.”

With that money gone, Concordia plans not to buy anything new, and hopes all its old equipment keeps working. Maintenance costs will have to come out of the materials budget. In the meantime, Taylor is already working on getting the funding restored. “We are already talking to our legislators about the next budget,” she said. “We are going to work really hard to make the legislators understand how important it is in these rural areas because citizens depend on the public library. We’re going to hope for the Legislature to open their eyes to what we do every day.”

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Jason Parker