Major NJ Library Budget Cuts

I am a Pennsylvania librarian – but I do a ton of work in New Jersey and work very closely with NJ librarians and it is for this reason that I feel a need to spread the word of some very bad news NJ received yesterday. First, the announcement (links added by me):

TO: Library Directors
FROM: Norma E. Blake, State Librarian
SUBJECT: 2011 Budget
DATE: March 17, 2010

Yesterday we became aware through Treasury budget documents that it is proposed that Thomas Edison State College and the New Jersey State Library will be merged with the New Jersey State Museum and governed by Rutgers University starting July 1, 2010.

In addition:

  • Libraries lost $1.449 million (all) of NJKI (databases including RefUSA, Business Source Premiere, and Academic Search Premiere).
  • $4.299 million (all) in Network Aid (including Regions and Statewide Services, such as delivery, databases, interlibrary loan and continuing education.)
  • $1.170 million (all) in virtual aid (databases and the public library JerseyConnect Technology System).
  • $3.5 million in Per Capita State Aid (leaving $3.676 million)
  • Libraries have lost 74% in library program funding from the FY 2010 appropriation which is unprecedented and disproportionate to other Departmentsā€™ losses.

If these cuts remain once the budget is passed in June, an unintended consequence would be the loss of $4.5 million in federal funds. Also, if the cut to JerseyConnect is maintained, the State Library cannot accept the $7.5 million Broadband funds if awarded by NJIA.

The State Library is talking to the New Jersey Library Association about our concerns regarding the loss of federal money and services to libraries like delivery, databases, interlibrary loan, Per Capita State Aid and JerseyConnect.

We will communicate again with you as soon as we know what action is needed.

There are so many areas of this I can focus on, but I want to bring one thing to everyone’s attention that may not be clear. In the announcement there is a mention to the cuts in ‘Regions.’ What does this mean? NJ has these awesome cooperatives for the four regions in the state. Each of these groups offers services to libraries like cooperative buying benefits and professional development. This is something we don’t have in PA, and something I always talk about when mentioning continuing education for librarians.

One of the complaints I have about librarianship is that it’s a profession without required continuing ed. For a lawyer to stay licensed he has to attend classes and stay up to things, the same with accountants, insurance salespeople, etc – why not librarians. That said, NJ was offering free and low cost continuing ed to their librarians and that made me so proud – both of the state and of the librarians who attended these classes even though they weren’t required.

Now, the state is looking at cutting all of these programs. So not only are they hurting their community by limiting the resources libraries can offer they are also stunting the education available to their librarians … seems like a lose lose situation for NJ citizens and librarians alike.

This is a story I’ll be keeping an eye on and one that I hope resolves itself in a way that doesn’t hurt so many New Jersey residents.


  1. This is both sad and infuriating. After all NJ libraries have accomplished, proven, and won… I want an hour alone in a room w/ these decision-makers!! No cameras allowed. And I’d like 24’s Jack Bauer to come in with me. ;->

  2. It’s awful news. It seems like NJ and Charlotte/Mecklenberg are being punished for success.

  3. yes, way too many of my friends and colleagues losing their jobs because libraries are getting the brunt of budget cuts šŸ™

  4. What really annoys me is the notion of cutting back state aid so much as to leave federal money on the table, There’s a similar library funding crisis in Florida as well, for the second year in a row.

  5. In a professional field where staying current is vital to the service provided, the ramifications to the end users–the public–won’t be felt immediately. But it will be felt. There has to be a compromise available that won’t set librarianship back decades.

  6. Anyone who cares about this nations safety nets knows that Libraries are the backbone. Where are people to turn now when they lose their job and need retraining and information. When they need internet access and can’t afford their own. When a person needs advice or valuable data that is only available via corporate subscription, Ebsco et al.

    What about the early childhood development programs?!? That’s the one that really matters to me. The early development programs prepare children for School, and really make a difference. With this country staring down the barrel of a service economy, Education is paramount.

    What an A-Hole.

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