Public library funds go to the public good | Calhoun
Public libraries are pillars of communities, and the funding they receive goes well beyond a simple book budget.
The vast majority of public library funding comes from local sources, said Gloria Meraz, director of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. This funding is used for a range of programs that meet specific community needs such as early childhood literacy, English as a second language, workforce development and GED education, has t she declared.
“Libraries are sort of an interesting position,” said Dayna Williams-Capone, director of the Victoria Public Library. “We are the government. We are education, and we are kind of a non-profit organization.
Funding for public libraries is typically a city or county budget item, Meraz said.
In Victoria, about 90% of library funding comes from local sales taxes, Williams-Capone said.
In coastal Calhoun County, the four public library branches are funded from the county budget, library director Noemi Cruz said.
Funding for public libraries varies from city to city and county to county, Williams-Capone said.
“Funding depends on how the economy is doing in the city,” she said.
Typically, cities with a larger tax base have larger library budgets, Meraz said. Before COVID-19, library budgets were stable year after year. While there hasn’t been a lot of growth, there haven’t been many budget cuts either until the pandemic cuts library budgets due to reduced economic activity.
The remainder of their funding is obtained through donations, fundraising and state library support in the form of grants, Williams-Capone said.
In Victoria, a recent grant made it possible to redo the library meeting room. the library is hoping to use another to improve the use of their outdoor spaces, Williams-Capone said.
Meanwhile, Calhoun County received a $ 10,000 grant in September 2020 to purchase children’s books for a program called 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, Cruz said.
Library funds go to a variety of programs that help uplift the community, Meraz said.
“Libraries are at the heart of a service organization,” she said. “These might be places where people can get books, but what libraries actually do is make sure people have access to what they need.”
Finding the wants and needs of the community is an important function of a public library, said Williams-Capone, and was central to the Victoria Library’s strategic plan.
When you survey the community to find these needs, it’s important to emphasize that they are not talking about the library, but the community as a whole, she said. “It’s really our job to listen, to hear that big picture and to interpret it and see where the library is. “
A community need might be to increase preschool education to prepare children for kindergarten, Williams-Capone said. To meet such needs, a library can begin to teach children the standards they will need to achieve before they reach school age.
“The children who struggle may be the ones who didn’t have this opportunity,” she said. “We want to offer this opportunity.
One of the ways Williams-Capone said the Victoria Library provides opportunities for people is by partnering with Goodwill to teach classes how to look for work. In the past, they have also partnered with Workforce Solutions to do the same.
Because the world is changing more and more online, it is important that libraries offer services such as email and Internet access for work.
“A place where people can have the internet and apply for jobs might be the community’s greatest need,” she said.
After Hurricane Harvey devastated the Carrefour in 2017, the Victoria Library partnered with the American Red Cross. Community members struggling with the hurricane could use the library as a site to apply for relief funds, Williams-Capone said.
In addition to programs that meet the widespread needs of the community, libraries also offer light and entertaining programs.
In Victoria, those programs include book groups, music programs and craft events, Williams-Capone said. The library recently hosted a pumpkin painting event, and they are preparing to host a gingerbread house workshop that they expect 1,200 people to enjoy.
Calhoun County has similar programs like storytelling hours for kids, reading friends, craft and play days, and even a crochet group that meets at the library, Cruz said.
Providing programs for uplifting and entertaining is what libraries really are, said Williams-Capone.
“What is a library for? ” she said. “We are a trusted community resource and we can do something here to make improvements to this community. “