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Cutting the Budget: Oregon State Library
We love libraries. but not to the tune of $10 million

Editor’s note: This is the second in a multi-part series on the budget for the State of Oregon and where possible efficiencies can be found.

Not many people know about the Oregon State Library. One of the strategic goals of the Oregon State Library, as expressed by the agency in it's budget presentation during the 2019 session, is to "Build awareness of the State Library." Some might say, that if you have a state agency that no one is aware of, maybe it doesn't need to exist -- especially if it is tapping over $10 million dollars from the state general fund.

At first blush, cutting the Orgon State Library might seem to be mean-spirited. Who didn't grow up spending time in the neighborhood library? To make matters worse, the Oregon State Library sponsors the very popular Ready to Read program which funds local libraries' programs to read to younger children. Still worse, it runs the program for persons with "print disabilities" which means Talking Books and Braille services. These facts might be a demagogue's dream, but they fade on closer inspection.

First, the State Library doesn't have much to do with the Ready to Read program. It merely administers the grants, and this could be done by any other agency. The programs for print disabled persons serves fewer and fewer people each year and soon will have fewer than 1,000 persons served. Most younger persons who are print disabled meet their needs through electronic means. Finally, the need for libraries as a place where books are checked out has effectively been replaced by Google. If that makes you sad, very well. If you think $10 million elsewhere in the budget will make you feel better -- or even returned to the taxpayers -- you might find a better case for that.

If you're a millenial you might want to pay a visit to the Oregon State Library. They have a card catalog room. If you don't know what a card catalog is or how to use it, you might want to get over there and check it out (no pun intended). Otherwise you might never see one.

The State Library gets about $6 million directly from the state general fund and about $4 million from assesments on other agencies, which is essentially general fund money.

Savings: $10 million biennially

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-07-08 08:00:00Last Update: 2020-07-01 21:21:50

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