Wednesday, February 22, 2012
In his FY 2013 Budget Recommendation, Gov. Phil Bryant stated that libraries are not an "appropriate government function" and are a "non-core area." Consistent with these beliefs, the Republican budget calls for a 15 percent cut to Mississippi's public libraries. This proposed cut would be particularly painful to our local libraries, as the Mississippi Library Commission has been cut by more than $3.4 million, or 24 percent, over the last three years.
In a letter to Bryant dated Feb. 3, Sharman Bridges Smith, the executive director of the Mississippi Library Commission, expressed an understanding of the difficult challenges facing budget writers: "Librarians understand that these are difficult times and we expect to take cuts along with all other public entities." Even so, Smith noted, "These cuts have and continue to severely impact citizen access to the very priorities of your administration—jobs, early childhood literacy and reading." To illustrate her point, Ms. Smith listed several services provided by Mississippi's public libraries including:
- More than 37 percent of 2.7 million people using computers in public libraries each year do job searches or complete employment applications.
- Many local public libraries serve as WIN Job Centers.
- More than 400,000 Mississippi children participate in 13,000 children's programs each year.