The Minnesota Library Association opposes the repeal of public library maintenance of effort. Recent amendments to 134.34 provide flexibility to local units of government while ensuring financial accountability, promoting statewide cooperation, striving for equity, and continuing flexibility for local decision-makers.
Accountability: Funding public libraries is a shared responsibility between cities, counties and the state. The state requires cities and counties to maintain their effort in funding public libraries in exchange for receiving state library funds. This requirement ensures that each level of government lives up to its responsibility. State funds are intended to supplement, not supplant, local funds.
Cooperation: Public libraries work closely together across city and county boundaries to stretch our dollars. We share books and other library resources, technology, staff training and more. Your local library card is accepted at public libraries across the state. This system of cooperation relies on each library doing its part. If a library fails to maintain effort and services are reduced, its residents will use a neighboring library. If the disparity in services becomes too great, this system of cooperation will be endangered. Libraries that contribute far more than they receive may withdraw in order to protect their local taxpayers. Cooperative efforts work best when everyone contributes and everyone benefits.
Equity: In some parts of the state, city residents are paying most of the cost of their library while county residents (who do not live in a city with a library) pay very little, but have full access to that city library. These inequities would be exacerbated if maintenance of effort were repealed.
Flexibility: In 2009 the Legislature enacted significant changes to library maintenance of effort. These reforms gave cities and counties more flexibility in setting library budgets. Libraries worked with cities and counties to address concerns about library maintenance of effort. This was the only relief that cities and counties were given from the array of maintenance of effort requirements they must meet.
Maintenance of effort is a leveling tool for local government. Library maintenance of effort enables a community to continue offering services while managing funding as necessitated by these challenging economic times. Without some form of maintenance of effort, library funding could go up and down, perhaps drastically. This could lead to teeter-tottering operational budgets.
A printable PDF of these talking points is available on this page of the MLA website.