More Support and Funding Should Go to East Bay Libraries

The Editors

While budget cuts persist, programs, schools and other necessities are losing funding and business as a direct result of it.

Public libraries are certainly no exception.

Libraries are valuable resources. From research to reading and Internet access, libraries are invaluable and inexpensive resources.

Funding cuts have also hit libraries in the East Bay and throughout the entire state. The absence of libraries and their valuable programs may redefine a generation of young people.

Without libraries, how will kids learn to engage, to read and even prepare for their future in higher education?

According to Marion Oldenhage, Alameda County Library Administration, California libraries have already lost $15.2 million in funding for the California Library Services Act, the state literacy program and the Public Library Foundation.

In January, all state sponsored funding for public libraries was eliminated and as a result, about $16 million in federal funds will be in jeopardy if California doesn’t commit financially to its public libraries.

Oldenhage says within the Alameda County Library system alone, at least $300,000 of funding for books and technology has already been cut as a direct result of Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget cuts.

Revenues for the 2011-2012 fiscal year dropped by 1.2 percent. Libraries are also experiencing loss of revenue from the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF). In the current fiscal year, more than $25 million have been lost.

Here at The Pioneer, we believe libraries are important and should be a funding priority in California. The government has provided no support for our community libraries.

As students, we believe libraries must remain a priority. If the state budget continues to ignore the issue, cities in the East Bay must take action on their own if they want to save their libraries.

While it may not be easy, it can be possible.

Earlier this month, the San Jose Mercury News reported on a new potential ballot item in San Jose, which would allow the city to fund their own local libraries by giving them a slice of the city budget.  San Jose has lost $7 million from the library’s operating budget over the past two years.

If the measure were passed, it would increase the funding without raising taxes, according to the former San Jose elected leaders behind the measure.

Another example of keeping libraries running is Stanislaus County’s Measure T.  First established in 1995, the Turlock Journal explained how the sales tax makes up 87 percent of the library system’s funding — the largest portion of it — it in a one-eighth of a penny sales tax format.  A multi-city campaign called “Save Stanislaus Libraries” will be kicking off this Saturday, in attempt to renew the measure for the upcoming June elections.

If the East Bay can provide funding for their libraries despite the government’s lack of consideration, perhaps it can set the tone for the next generation.

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