EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 8, 2013

Libraries seeing little in new state support

By Andy Metzger
State House News Service

---- — EVERETT — While libraries in Massachusetts are grappling with different demands from users and new technologies such as electronic books, state funding for the libraries is at the same level it was in 1994, Board of Library Commissioners Director Robert Maier told lawmakers yesterday.

“The funding is way down,” Maier told the House and Senate Ways and Means committees at a budget hearing in the library of Everett High School.

The decreased state funding has set the tone for local funding as well, Maier said. “They feel empowered to reduce their local funding to libraries,” said Maier.

Eight communities have received funding for library construction through a $100 million bond bill approved in 2008, and another 11 communities are on a waiting list, Maier said.

“We need a new bond authorization in order for those 11 communities on the waiting list to actually go ahead,” Maier said.

Libraries have gained in popularity over the years, officials said.

Maier has requested a $6 million funding increase, which he said could maybe be accomplished over a period of years.

Gov. Deval Patrick has recommended a $21.8 million fiscal year 2014 budget for the board, up a little less than $20,000 from the projected spending in fiscal 2013.