Word came today that funding for Connecticar, (the statewide delivery system that delivers library materials and Interlibrary loan items to libraries around the state) and Connecticard (the program that allows a library user with a valid public library card from his or her hometown library to borrow materials from any public library in Connecticut), has been restored in the budget that was passed late last night and has been sent to the Governor for his signature. The loss of these two programs would have been a crippling blow to library service in our state. Thanks to all at the CT State Library, the Governor's office, the General Assembly, the CT Library Association, library users around the state who voiced their support, and everyone who worked to save these critical programs.
It’s not entirely good news, though. Because of the state’s dire financial situation, funds to maintain Connecticard and Connecticar were taken from other areas of the State Library budget including Grants to Public Libraries and reimbursement to public libraries for serving non-resident patrons. We in the library community know that we have to do our part to help solve the state’s fiscal crisis, and I for one am willing to accept a smaller state grant and lower Connecticard reimbursement to save the Connecticar and Connecticard programs. But it doesn’t change the fact that these cuts will further burden public libraries that are already struggling to meet the increased usage demands caused by the sagging economy.
One of the things I love about the library profession is that it is a cooperative venture not a cutthroat one. I’ve spent 25 years working with colleagues who are always finding ways to do more with less as budgets shrink, who help each other out, boost each others' spirits, and inspire a love of learning and reading. We’ll keep trying to meet the needs of our communities as best we can, and we’ll keep advocating that funding libraries is one of the most efficient and effective ways to benefit society as a whole. In the meantime, state government, the legislature, and the library community all worked together to save Connecticar and Connecticard. And that’s a good thing.