You can find additional talking points about MOE and libraries on the Council of Regional Public Library Administrators (CRPSLA) website.
Dear [Senator or Representative X]:
Public libraries provide a vibrant source of information and programming throughout Minnesota. In these challenging economic times public libraries have seen a dramatic increase in the usage of materials and services. As library patrons use more books, music, and movies, public libraries are also seeing increased use of their computer resources by those community members seeking employment, accessing government services, or continuing their educational studies. Public libraries also partner with other institutions within their community to provide services for library patrons including local public and private K-12 schools, local colleges and universities, and other community organizations.
Minimum level of support and maintenance of effort are baseline funding amounts needed to ensure a stable funding stream to maintain these services and partnerships. This stability guarantees to all Minnesota residents that their local public library will receive enough funding to provide basic services. Residents can expect adequate library service on a consistent basis without fear of losing it due to unexpected decreases in library funding.
In 2008, the Minnesota Library Funding (MLF) Committee, a combination of county commissioners, library trustees, library directors, and state staff, formed to examine the then current Minnesota State Statutes (134.34) as they reference library maintenance of effort and also the Minnesota State Library Services Terms and Guidelines regarding maintenance of effort. As part of their charge, the MLF Committee reviewed the statutes and guidelines in view of the issues and concerns that have been raised by city and county officials and library boards and librarians over the past several years. Their findings resulted in a bipartisan-supported reform in 2009 to library maintenance of effort which to date is the only major maintenance of effort reform signed into law in recent years. These changes allow library budgets to be reduced in direct proportion to the loss of state aid funds to cities and counties.
H.F. 07 and its companion S.F. 159 call for the repeal of several sections of the Minnesota State Statutes, including Section 134.34, which specifically addresses minimum levels of funding for public libraries. If maintenance of effort and minimum level of support are repealed, the ability of Minnesota residents to receive adequate library service on a consistent basis will be severely hindered. I ask that you and your House and Senate colleagues reconsider the effects this bill would have on public library service in Minnesota, and move to retain MN State Statute Section 134.34.