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Governors budget proposal cuts funding for library programs
The Friends of the Turlock Public Library holds one of their two annual books sales, which began on Thursday and runs through today. The book sales generate several thousands of dollars in donations for the library every year. - photo by PARMVEER MASUTA / The Journal

The newly presented budget from Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing some deep cuts to several state departments, including libraries, which could close the books on programs like adult literacy.

The budget proposal from the governor, if passed, would decrease General Fund assistance for the state’s libraries by $30.4 million in the 2011-12 fiscal year. That decrease would result in the elimination of the Public Library Services Act, and the California Library Literacy and English Acquisition Services.

The Transaction Based Reimbursements is part of the California Libraries Services Act, which offers reimbursements for a portion of the costs incurred when a library extends lending services beyond their geographical boundaries.

The Public Library Fund can be used to help pay for anything that serves the purpose of a free public library.

The California Library Literacy and English Acquisition Services is a state program designed to reduce illiteracy rates among adults and children by providing tutoring and instruction.

California Library Association President Paymaneh Maghsoudi called the funding cuts “disastrous and disheartening” for libraries across the state.

“Since the early 2000s, public libraries have been one of the hardest hit segments of local government, with deep reductions totaling more than 75 percent made to these programs by the previous two governors combined,” Maghsoudi said in a released statement. “We understand fully California’s dire budget situation and the challenges of the recessionary economy, but the public libraries have done more than their share to assist with the budget deficit over the years by absorbing painful cuts. The time has come to stop the bleeding and CLA respectfully asks the members of the legislature to oppose these proposed cuts to our valuable programs.”

If the budget is passed by legislators, the Stanislaus County library system would lose about 2 percent of their budgeted revenue, or approximately $170,000, said County Librarian Vanessa Czopek.

Though the state funding makes up a small percent of the county’s library budget, Czopek said the cuts would have a severe impact on the adult literacy program, a program that she says is of dire importance to this area in particular.

“Adult literacy is very critical to our county’s welfare,” Czopek said. “When a quarter of your population is functionally illiterate, it makes it very difficult to attract companies here with good paying jobs because they don’t think they’ll find a qualified workforce.”

The majority of the county’s library budget is funded by a 1/8-cent sales tax that is earmarked exclusively for the library. The tax has been approved by voters over several election cycles and is up for renewal again in 2012.

With the axe looming over their state funding, Czopek said the libraries will have to place a greater reliance on their foundation and the network of people who make up the Friends of the Library that have groups throughout the cities in Stanislaus County.

These groups, like the Friends of the Turlock Public Library, hold events like book sales to raise funds for their local library. The Friends of the Turlock Public Library hold twice yearly book sales that on average generate several thousands of dollars in donations for the library. The group also operates a book store inside the Turlock library.

“Turlock is exceptionally good at raising funds for the library,” Czopek said. “They are a model for the rest of the Friends groups.”

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.