Special Report...State Aid to Nebraska Libraries: Past and Present
The Nebraska Library Commission Newsletter, Overtones from the Underground, 2:6, 1974, reports that the first state aid funds were presented to the Tekamah Public Library. The $385 grant was made possible through a $200,000 general fund appropriation. The library used the state aid money to buy library furniture. The formula used in that first year of the program provided "...$200 for every grant recipient plus $.10 per capita, based on the 1970 census population figures." (Overtones, 1978). At that time, thirty-six states had state aid programs for public libraries.
From its inception, the state aid program for public libraries in Nebraska has been tied to performance. "State Aid funds will emphasize the development of library services and resources to meet community and area needs. Maintenance of local effort and progress in meeting Standards for Public Libraries will be considered in the review of grant applications." (Overtones from the Underground, 4:5, 1976) The intent has been to provide for enhanced services over and above those provided for through local funding. In a meeting of the Library Commission in July 1978, the "Commissioners 'reaffirmed' the principle that State Aids (sic) to Public Libraries are not a substitute for local funding...libraries must sustain levels of local financial support in order to qualify for state aids...Commissioner Robert Harris stated that "State Aid is not a handout, but an incentive program to encourage improvement of local library service." (Overtones, 5:12, 1978).
In 1980, the Unicameral voted a seven percent increase in the state aid appropriations for public libraries. Rather than increasing the base amount provided, the Commissioners opted to use the increase in aid "to provide incentives for countywide library services...The remaining funds, approximately $16,000 will be disbursed to public libraries which function as county library service headquarters." (Overtones, 6:13, 1979) The following year, $214,000 was allocated for financial aid to public libraries, with $194,000 for State Aid grants and $20,000 supporting regional library services. In 1983, the most common use of state aid payments was "for books to up-grade reference and general material collections...Among the more unusual uses is a library which will use state aid money to acquire a software program for its small computer. Libraries in the Panhandle system...agreed to pool their state aid grants to support services commonly shared by system members." (Overtones, 10:4-5, 1983) In 1992 State Aid to Public Libraries was linked to the public library accreditation process.
In 1999 the Commissioners of the Nebraska Library Commission approved allocation of additional state aid funds. The formula was revised, providing a higher base payment for libraries serving populations less than 5,000. Another change in the 1999 formula was the institution of an incentive payment. A percentage incentive payment is paid to libraries that receive funding from a public entity outside their primary funding source. This is to encourage libraries to seek additional public funds to support the services that, in many cases, they currently offer to people who live outside their basic service area. In 2002, state aid payments are subject to budget cuts that resulted from a special session of the Nebraska Legislature. The per capita amounts paid to eligible libraries were reduced. However, in many cases, since the payments made were based on 2000 census figures, an increased population number offset this cut. A total of approximately $385,000 is currently being paid to 162 eligible libraries, with average payments at $2,248 and $0.909 per capita. The average 2002 state aid payment to libraries serving populations of less than 5,000 (132 libraries) is $973, and $1.062 per capita. The average payment to libraries serving population of 5,000 or greater (thirty libraries) is $7,843, and $0.231 per capita. For additional information contact Kit Keller, Library Data Services Coordinator, 402-471-3216, 800-307-2665, e-mail: Kit Keller, or see the Commission Web site, nlc.nebraska.gov, search on State Aid.
Radio Spreads the Word About Talking Books
In early winter, Nebraska radio and television stations began to air talking book public service announcements (PSAs) aimed at seniors and their family members. Most of the PSAs were delivered to stations by twenty community volunteers, many of whom were local public library directors and their staff or members of the Library Commission's Talking Book and Braille Service Advisory Committee.
These PSAs are part of a four-month public education campaign, Take a Talking Book @ your libraryTM, provided by the Library of Congress/National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Promotional mailings were made to Nebraska eye care professionals and Senior Centers. Newspapers are being encouraged to publish press releases as well. Nebraska librarians are encouraged to get involved with the campaign. For more information or to volunteer contact Annette Hall, Volunteer Services Coordinator, 402-471-4033, 800-307-2665, e-mail: Annette Hall.
Annette Hall, Talking Book and Braille Service Volunteer Services Coordinator, (left) works with Patty Hall, McCook Public Library Director, on PSA distribution.
The Mead Public Library Board acknowledges the remittance we have received from you, and we are most grateful. These resources encourage us to further enhance our library with new books and materials needed as we serve our patrons in this community. We appreciate this support in the amount of $848 and so again thank you so very much!!
-Vera, Dalene, Peggy, Elaine, Lesha, June