Spring 2001Page 10
Library Commission Distributes State Aid
The Nebraska Library Commission annually provides direct state aid payments to eligible public libraries. This money augments local support for library services and is used by local public libraries to meet a wide variety of needs. To be eligible for this annual state aid payment, a library must be accredited, must return the Public Library Statistical Report for submission of the data in the annual Public Library Profile, and must meet local income requirements (income must be equal to or greater than that of the three previous years).
Discussion between Library Commission employees and CASTL (Conversation Among Small Town Librarians) group emphasizes the importance of E-rate in small libraries.
Last year, the Libraries for the 21st Century initiative resulted in an increase in state funds for library services in Nebraska. An additional $150,000 in state aid funding was appropriated by the legislature for that fiscal year. The Library Commission distributed a total of $403,892 in state aid for the year 2000, and the average state aid payment per capita rose from $0.25 to $0.34.
Library directors were surveyed to learn about the impact this increased funding had on services and programs. Of the 160 libraries that received state aid, seventy-eight submitted a brief statement about the use and impact of the state funding. The following responses reflect the variety of services and programs available in Nebraska libraries:
"The state aid money shall be a major contribution towards the purchase of a new computer." (Bayard Public Library)
"This year, our state aid will be used for the purchase of software for our public computers, specifically to enhance research and learning skills." (Central City Public Library)
"This past year, (state aid) money was spent on two resources of great benefit to this community: INFO USA, an on-line database
used to locate names, addresses and phone numbers of businesses around the United States, and Magazine Article Summary, an on-line database that is particularly helpful to students and researchers " (Columbus Public Library)
"We have updated our computers with the latest Follett software." (Crawford Public Library)
"We have a plan to create a more "user friendly" library and thanks to this funding, we are able to get started. There is no longer a school in our community and the only institution offering programs for children is the library. It is so important to the future of our town that the library continue to progress and update." (Greenwood Public Library)
" the increased state aid... has allowed us to be in a position to offer our patrons better service with up-to-date technology." (Lyons Public Library)
"The state aid funds will be used for additional continuing education/training for the library director and assistant librarian, in regards to technology, computers, etc." (Stanton Public Library)
Libraries for the 21st Century is an on-going initiative, and continues to seek increased state funding for public libraries. For fiscal year 2000/2001, the process for distributing state aid was streamlined. There is no application form or paperwork to complete. On December 15 of each year, state aid award letters are mailed to all eligible libraries. The letter explains how the state aid payment is determined, and when and how payment will be made.
Jeff Gilderson-Duwe, Director of the Holdrege Public Library System, expressed satisfaction with the process, "I really like the changes made. It was such a smooth transaction." For more information contact Kit Keller, Library Data Services Coordinator, 402-471-3216, 800-307-2665, e-mail: Kit Keller.