By Dave Bloss
Rhode Island Library Report
PROVIDENCE - (June 5) - Providence Community Library advocates and the Providence City Council appear to be on the same page, even when the Council is unable to sustain city funding for the system.
While praising PCL for its hard work since 2009 in taking over operations of nine branch libraries in Providence, the council’s Committee on Finance announced the restoration of $150,000 to PCL as the city finalizes a 2012-13 budget it plans to pass in the next two weeks.
The council had originally cut PCL’s 2012-13 request by $355,000, but has now reduced that cut to $205,000. Assuming the city budget passes, PCL would receive $3,345,000 for 2012-13.
The council shifted $150,000 from the city’s public works capital improvements account after a PCL lobbying campaign.
PCL supporters took up most of the available seating in a small third-floor City Hall conference room. They heard Ward 12 Councilman Terrence M. Hassett praise PCL.
“We’ve come a long way together. It’s such a pleasure to visit the libraries now and to see students learning and to see working reference libraries. You’ve worked hard to make computers available to the public. The city thanks you,” Hassett said as other city council members nodded in agreement.
“You heard the public’s concern and you did your best to address it,” PCL Board of Directors secretary Linda Kushner told the council committee. “We’re not a city department, but we perform an important city function.”
Kushner asked the council, the mayor’s office and the city finance department to work together with PCL to try to increase funding in 2013-14. The city has been trying to close huge budget deficits and had said it may have to go into bankruptcy, although that talk has quieted lately after contributions from the non-profit universities and hospitals in the city and a preliminary agreement to reduce city employee pension costs.
In an e-mail to library supporters today, Patricia Raub, a PCL vice present and a founder of the group, praised the council's move, saying that the city council had worked with the office of Mayor Angel Tavares to restore a "substantial amount."
"At a time that cities across the country are cutting library services, Providence has recognized the importance of vibrant libraries and helped to keep PCL operating effectively," Raub wrote.
But Raub warned that the library system is hardly out of the woods after successive years of no increase in the budget.
"We will not be able to continue to provide such quality services if the city does not increase its funding above the 2009 level" in the fiscal year that begins next July.
With Brian C. Jones, RI Library Report writer.