Sep 122009

Over the last several weeks we have heard several times that the proposed funding of $7,500,000 for Michigan libraries is only 50% of what is required by law.

What law?

And if it’s a law, why is not complying with it subject of legal action by someone – there’s no shortage of lawyers that’s for sure!!!!

So I set out to try and find out just where this “requirement” is. It turns out that this was laid down in Act 89 of 1977 – State Aid to Public Libraries, which contains a list of the requirements that must be met by libraries in Michigan, categorises them based on the population they serve and lays out the amount of state aid that they must receive. See here, here and here for several presentations of Act 89.

From State Aid Guidelines on page 3 we see this list of the funding categories required in Act 89.

PA89, §13 Public library cooperatives shall receive 50¢ per capita for their served population.

PA89, §16(2) Public libraries shall receive 50¢ per capita for their served population if minimum standards are met.

PA89, §16(4) Public libraries that meet minimum standards and are members of a cooperative library shall receive 50¢ per capita to pay for services provided by the cooperative.
All or part of this amount shall be used to purchase these services.

PA89, §16(4) A cooperative shall receive $10 per square mile for the area it serves if the area has less than 75 persons per square mile.

PA89, §16(5) County public libraries serving a population of 50,000 or less with a director who meets educational requirements can receive a maximum of $400 per month or $4,800 annually for salary reimbursement. A form must be filed quarterly by the county library to claim the reimbursement.

So while I’m certainly no lawyer, one has to wonder why if there’s a law, then this law can’t be enforced?!?!

The main thing I got out of the Rally at the Capitol was just how important it is that Michigan Libraries receive $10,000,000 in funding – “only” 2/3rds of the required $15,000,000 – so that they then receive the $5,000,000 in Federal money which is what by and large seems to pay forMeL and MelCat. The Governor is proposing $7,500,000, while the Senate is proposing $10,000,000.

How hard is to to realise that for a further measly $2,500,000 they would be able to treble their money, since that last $2,500,000 would trigger the Federal $5,000,000. That’s a return on investment that it ought to be criminal to turn down.

This page MHAL – Significant Dates in Michigan Library History should be required reading for all decision makers before they decide to underfund the Libraries of Michigan, so that they might get even a small grasp of what they’re about to undo before they go and undo it!!!!

And finally (maybe) this from writer Anne Herbert

“Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.”

Sep 112009

Today is 8 years since the attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon.

Where were you 8 years ago? I remember it all very clearly because of the unusual, and as it turns out very fortuitous situation Lisa and I were in.

We had been up in the Rocky Mountains at Estes Park for the Clan Moffat Society AGM that had ended on Sunday 9 September 2001. We spent Monday 10 September driving up to the top of the Rocky Mountains above Estes Park and then back down and just out of Colorado into Denver.

I had driven out to Colorado and Lisa had flown out, with me meeting her at Denver Airport. I was to drop her off at Denver Airport early on the morning of September 11 and then set out for the 2 day drive home while she flew back. But up at Estes Park I hadn’t been so well, suffering perhaps a bit of mountain sickness, with a bad headache much of the time, so we decided Lisa would come back in the car, incase I couldn’t handle all the driving myself.

Tuesday morning I was down in the car park cleaning the car windows, talking to a biker dude from Texas who was readying his Harley for the day’s riding when Lisa came down and told me a plane had hit the World Trade Center. We went upstairs in time to see GMA show the second plane hitting live.

We spent all of that day driving 700 miles to the outskirts of Chicago, listening in stunned amazement to Public Radio from Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois all day. We endured a massive line at a petrol station and paid some artificially inflated price to refuel as everyone panicked about what the price of oil was going to be.

Got to a motel about 9 PM which was the first chance I got to see anything on TV to put pictures to what we had been listening to all day, so watched that for a couple of hours.

During the afternoon, somewhere in Iowa, with the news from NPR that President Bush who had been shuffling around the country in Air Force One was on his way from Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, which we had passed earlier in the day was on his way to Washington DC, and we saw this – unfortunately not taken quickly enough to capture the best we’d seen, or Air Force One with its F-16 fighter jet escort heading to Washington DC. They were of course by then the only planes in the air.

Air Force One 11 September 2001

Air Force One 11 September 2001

We were of course extremely thankful that the fates had seen Lisa travelling with me in the car – had we stuck to the original plan I would have dropped her off at Denver airport early on Tuesday morning, and headed east. She would have ended up stuck in Denver airport, while I would have been who knows how far away before I even found out what had happened, and that all flights were grounded. Neither of us had  a cell phone so it would have been very hard to contact each other again.

My brother from Australia was not so lucky. He had been in Louisiana at a computer conference and was due to fly back to Australia 11 September. So he was stuck in the US for quite a few more days and then had a very long chaotic series of flights lasting more than a day to get across the US to Los Angeles and then on to Australia once the planes did finally start flying again.

Sep 102009

Thursday 10 September 2009 was the day of the Michigan Library Association “Rally at the Capitol” where Librarians and other interested parties from across Michigan rallied to express their displeasure at the proposed funding cuts to Libraries in Michigan overall and specifically the plans to dismantle and disperse the collections of the Library of Michigan, which have been being collected for more than 180 years.

The theme of the day was RED – people were encouraged to show their support for Libraries by wearing a red shirt – and there were a LOT of RED shirts. Thanks in no small part to Gale Group of Michigan who were giving out free red shirts that said on the front “Protect Michigan Libraries”. Others were wearing red shirts from the Grand Rapids Public Library that said on the back “I ♥ Grand Rapids Public Library”.

Roger Moffat and Shirley Hodges on the Capitol Steps

Roger Moffat and Shirley Hodges on the Capitol Steps

The emphasis today in particular was to keep State funding for Libraries  at $10,000,000 – at this level there is a matching Federal $5,000,000 which is largely what keeps MEL – the Michigan Electronic Library and MelCAT operating. If the state funding drops to the proposed $7,500,000 then the Federal $5,000,000 will be lost, and MEL is in serious danger.

It was also the day chosen for Michigan Fire Services Awareness Day so there was a large presence of Firemen, and firetrucks present with displays of firefighting and HazMat equipment. I hope they knew we were coming, or else they got a large surprise when a crowd that was about the same size as the “Hands Around the Library” event a month earlier.

Below is a photo gallery of some photos from today with the “Sea of Red” or is that the “See of Read” perhaps?

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