DPI budget requests funding for library services

Posted by Lisa Strand on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 in DPI News

MADISON — An elementary student uses the web to explore an encyclopedia, a high school student gets start-to-finish lessons on conducting research projects, and business owners and hobbyists find targeted information from more than 20,000 full text magazines, journals, newspapers, and reference materials through Wisconsin’s online library called BadgerLink.

Started in 1998, BadgerLink provides information resources for Wisconsin residents in cooperation with the state’s public, school, academic, and special libraries. BadgerLink users will conduct more than 99 million searches during 2012, growth of more than 18.8 million searches from last year. The Department of Public Instruction works with about 200 Wisconsin-based and national Internet Service Providers to ensure that libraries, schools, and many individuals throughout the state have easy access to BadgerLink. Currently, the agency contracts with nine vendors to provide online information. To maintain BadgerLink services and increase funding for access to Wisconsin newspapers, the department is requesting $5.2 million over the two years of the 2013-15 budget. This request represents a $66,000 increase over the 2011-13 budget.

“BadgerLink is an amazing resource for our citizens,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “If purchased individually, Wisconsin’s libraries, schools, universities, and other organizations would spend as much as $75 million to provide this service.”

In addition to BadgerLink funding, the DPI is requesting increased funding for four library service contracts with the Milwaukee Public Library, Wisconsin Library Service, the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library, and the Wisconsin Cooperative Children’s Book Center. The agency also is seeking continued funding for the Newline for the Blind. The library service contracts provide specialized services for the blind, children’s librarians, and teachers, and ensure that major collections and unique materials are available to all parts of the state. The 2013-15 budget requests $2.3 million over two years for library service contracts, an increase of $45,400 from the 2011-13 budget. Funding for Newsline for the Blind is requested at $2,560,000 in the 2014 fiscal year, with a $400 increase requested in fiscal 2015. The service, offered by the National Federation of the Blind, provides individuals who cannot read print materials access to 15 Wisconsin newspapers and more than 365 national newspapers, news wire services, and some national magazines.

“Library contracts provide important services that individuals could not hope to access effectively on their own,” Evers said. “These services contribute to the quality of life in Wisconsin, helping our residents participate fully in society as well as increasing access to library items and resources that would not otherwise be available.”

By law, the department is required to include a 13 percent index level of funding for public library system aid in its biennial budget. The index level is calculated as a percentage of the local and county expenditures for libraries in the previous year. In the last budget, funding for the state’s 17 public library systems was cut 10 percent, dropping the index level to 7.7 percent in 2011 and an estimated 6.9 percent for 2012. Total system funding was $30 million for the two years of the 2011-13 budget, a $3.3 million cut from the prior budget.

Public library systems coordinate resource sharing among the state’s 385 public libraries, ensuring that system residents have complete access to all public libraries within the system area. Additionally, the systems support the download of digital materials, provide training and continuing education for local library staff, and coordinate cooperative library technology projects.

“Wisconsin residents borrow more than 1 million library materials each week,” Evers noted. “The services that public library systems provide to help make library items available to everyone across the state is something our citizens value. Our first in the nation status for per capita interlibrary loan is a model for how to use public resources efficiently through cooperation and collaboration. Continued funding cuts will erode library services our citizens need and use as they search for jobs, research business opportunities, and develop literacy skills for their children.”

NOTE: This news release is available electronically at http://news.dpi.wi.gov/files/eis/pdf/dpinr2012_136.pdf. Additional information about library circulation and usage data, as well as the state library system aid that supports those collaborative activities, is available at http://news.dpi.wi.gov/files/eis/pdf/dpinr2012_133.pdf or on the Department of Public Instruction’s Public Library Development team website at http://pld.dpi.wi.gov/. Additional information about the state superintendent’s 2013-15 budget request is available at http://news.dpi.wi.gov/news_2013-15-state-budget-information.

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