April 2017 Director’s Message:
I’ve often said that I have the best job in town, and I’m sure I’ll feel that way until the day I retire. There are many challenges that come with running a non-profit organization like the Essex Library, however, not the least of which is ensuring that we have the funding and other resources that are needed in order for us to be here for you. The State of Connecticut has been a critical behind the scenes source of support for us for many years and in many ways. The current budget under consideration in Hartford, however, cuts the State Library’s budget so drastically that it will have a significant impact on some of the core services and other resources it provides that we’ve come to rely heavily upon.
One of those resources, called borrowIT CT, is a cooperative program that allows residents to borrow materials from any of the 192 public libraries in Connecticut with their local library card. Each time a “non-resident” from another town borrows something from a public library that is not located in the town where they live, the lending library is compensated in the form of a small fee (paid annually by the State) in return for opening up their collections to that person. Funding for borrowIT CT is totally eliminated in the current budget. Elimination of this program would likely remove the incentive for many public libraries to lend their materials to people who are not residents of the towns where they are located. To make matters worse, the State Library receives federal funding based on its ability to provide services statewide – and borrowIT CT is one of the primary programs it uses to demonstrate what’s called “maintenance of effort” toward doing so. Elimination of borrowIT CT funding would drop that “maintenance of effort” below what’s mandated by the federal government, which means that $400,000 per year in federal funding would be taken away. That $400,000, in turn, has been used to pay for the delivery service that the State Library uses to transport materials that libraries borrow from each other for their patrons.
I know this is a complicated situation, and if you have questions about it please feel free to contact me at . Meanwhile, I urge you to contact State Representative Bob Siegrist and State Senator Art Linares to let them know that you want the cuts to the State Library’s budget to be restored. The amount of money involved is minuscule in comparison to the overall State budget, which totals some $40 billion dollars over the next two years. It’s just plain penny wise and pound foolish to make budget cuts that jeopardize federal funding which will, in turn, lead to curtailment or even elimination of services. This cruel twist on the “trickle down” concept would have a serious impact on public libraries and the people who use them.