Library systems statewide see 10 percent funding cut

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We now know more about how Governor Walker's proposed budget could impact libraries across the state.

The 17 library systems statewide are slated for a 10 percent cut, along with the removal of something called maintenance of effort; which in the past helped local libraries avoid seeing major cuts.

Six out of 10 people living in Wisconsin are registered library users, and in 2009 those users made more than 35.5 million visits to public libraries.

“I think it's a great resource and really wonderful for kids and adults alike,” Eau Claire library user Becky Gochanour tells us.

But the level of funding individual libraries receive from one of the 17 library systems statewide could be significantly changing.

“We really want to make sure that they receive the best possible service, but with those funding cuts it's going to be very difficult and it's going to have a real negative impact on libraries when libraries are seeing an increase in use because of the economy,” Indianhead Federated Library System Director John Thompson says.

Something that could be impacted is the system which allows all member libraries within the Indianhead Federated Library System to borrow books from each other, for free.

“Chippewa Falls, Menomonie, Eau Claire, all of those libraries may see an impact,” Thompson adds.

But something else that could dramatically impact libraries is the removal of rules used to control how much local governments can cut library funding.

“The idea was to get communities to support their own library, and thus not strain the resources of area libraries, so the maintenance of effort, that statute has now been eliminated after 40 years and that is one of the linchpins of library systems in the state of Wisconsin,” L.E. Phillips Memorial Library Director John Stoneberg says.

The Indianhead Federated Library System's budget, which covers both Eau Claire and Chippewa County, will lose $12,000 to its 2012 budget if Walker's budget is passed.

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