41 cents is not enough for New Jersey Public Libraries!
Email your State Representative today and let them know our libraries need more funding!
Help support libraries in New Jersey today!
We only have a short window of time this fall to get this bill out of Assembly Appropriations and Senate Budget committees and get it passed. That's why we are working with the New Jersey Library Association and asking for your support for Libraries in New Jersey by using this petition to send an email to your state representatives.
Growth in State Budget-Decline in Library Funding
Funding for the library per capita state aid program was drastically cut under Governor Christie’s first budget in FY10. This decline in per capita state aid has taken a toll on local library services. That budget was approximately $28.4 billion. Since that time the state budget has increased over 20% to $34.7 billion; however, the per capita state aid program has remained at this reduced level of $3.6 million. The last state budget saw $14 billion in education funding for students in PreK-12th grades. It also included $2.3 billion in higher education funding.
The vast majority of funding for local libraries comes directly from property taxes. Funding on the local level has also been severely diminished during the past several years because of the recession. Local library funding has been reduced from an average of $67 per capita in 2009 to $57 per capita in 2015. The dual reductions in funding sources had a significant impact on many public libraries.
Funding Tied to Standards
The Library Per Capita State Aid Program is a partnership between the state and local communities. Unlike many other state programs, funding under this program is contingent on libraries meeting minimum standards established by the New Jersey State Library. These standards ensure that a community’s library is providing a basic level of service to its residents. Standards include hours open, number of staff, library materials purchased, and free Internet access. Libraries continue to strive to meet these standards because of their commitment to the public. Libraries need the state to uphold its obligations under this law.
Strong Public and Legislative Support for Public Libraries
In November 2017, the New Jersey State Library Construction Bond Act (authorizing $125 million for construction and renovation funding for public libraries) was approved by sixty percent of New Jersey voters, demonstrating strong support by the residents of New Jersey for library services. In the last legislative session, S430/A2227, a bill to provide additional money for the library per capita state aid program, had strong bipartisan support with 41 members of the legislature agreeing to be sponsors or co-sponsors. Similar legislation had also been introduced in the previous session of the legislature.
The Need for 21st Century Technology and Resources to the Residents of New Jersey
Use of library services remains strong. In FY15 over 55 million items were circulated and over 43 million library visits were recorded. In addition to the traditional services that libraries offer, there is also a strong need for specialized services such as assistance with job searches, computer classes, and services for new residents, including English as a second language, makerspaces for teens and small business owners, and wireless access for individuals to do research. In September 2016, the Pew Research Institute did a survey and their results found:
• 77% of Americans believe that libraries are essential to providing resources they trust.
• 69% of American say local libraries contribute a lot to providing a safe place for the community.
• 58% of Americans think they contribute toward creating educational opportunities for all ages.
• 49% of Americans think they spark creativity among young people.
• 47% of Americans think libraries are a trusted place to find new technologies.
The increase in the state per capita aid program is needed by every library in New Jersey so that they can provide the diversity of programs and services that residents require to meet the information challenges of the 21st century.