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Presentation of the State Librarian at the 2011 NJLA Conference regarding QandANJ

The Institute of Library and Museum Services lost $12,529,000 in this year’s federal budget.  In turn, IMLS cut the states’ money by formula. New Jersey’s cut was $357,473.  This was not due to the strength or weakness of any presentation.  This was non-negotiable. We were first given an estimate and then we were given a table with the lost amount. At the same time, I am sure that you are aware that we lost 43% or $6,119,000 in this year’s state budget.  In fact, it looks like we may be facing more cuts due to things like the tunnel project and the Abbott Districts. Because of these cuts, we had to look at federally funded programs and chose to cut QandANJ based on declining usage figures.

For the last two years we had difficulty finding the money to fund QandANJ, but did so this year because of NJLA’s South Jersey Works grant that was predicated on having QandANJ.  The South Jersey Works grant ends on June 30, 2011.  

There’s been some discussion that I have not sought sufficient input from the library community.  However, I have had many conversations with people in the library community since the statewide budget task force meeting that was held last July.  I have heard from many librarians on how appreciative they are that we were able to keep the databases, ILL and delivery.  The newly appointed Library Network Review Board appointed by the Statewide Cooperative and the New Jersey State Library, has met twice recently. On November 30, 2010, some members of LNRB wanted to disband the committee, but I said no, because LNRB is an important communication vehicle that we want to keep.  LNRB asked us for three things: a budget breakdown, a statistics program that would rival what was being done in Connecticut and we were asked to conduct a statewide strategic plan. We do budget presentations multiple times during the year, but we added LSTA federal dollars to the Network budget and it was presented by the CFO at the last LNRB budget meeting on February 24, 2011. We added a software package, Counting Opinions, and started a statistical pilot.  We asked LNRB if they would like to spearhead a Statewide Strategic Planning effort.  The planning facilitator/writer request for quotation is ready to go and there have been conversations with the LNRB Chair Mary Martin about combining the LNRB and LSTA committees to look at all statewide services together.  Having an LSTA committee is not statutory anymore, but it is an option we choose to keep.  We are in the process of reconstituting the LSTA committee to look at the LSTA five-year plan and any revisions.  In hindsight, could I have quickly called together the LNRB committee and told them what I am about to tell you?  Yes, I could have, and should have, but feeling that I had few choices and little time, I did not.

Let’s examine the choices: State Library operations money cannot be used for statewide services.  In the Network line, money for CE, delivery, interlibrary loan, LDB staff, statewide databases and statewide grants or projects like statewide summer reading and statewide reference services are used for maintenance of effort to keep our federal money.  The only Network money that is not applied to maintenance of effort is the operations money for LibraryLinkNJ and funds for trustee training, already completed.  On the federal side, we have the Talking Book and Braille Center which is being evaluated this year to try to cut costs.  The State Library has already lost 7 positions to budget cuts. The Talking Book and Braille Center is state-mandated.  It is also one of our LSTA goal areas.  It costs $2 million annually, which is less than one half of one percent of public library monies used for this very vulnerable constituency.  Also off the table is the money for the technology staff, at least until we complete the BTOP grant, which is a three year grant and that brings us to the databases.  I looked at RefUSA, which costs us $812,000 a year.  In 2008 there were 63,710 sessions and in 2010 there were 129,377 sessions for an increase of 100%.  EBSCO costs $2 million.  In 2008 we had 3.6 million sessions; in 2010 we had 7.3 million for an increase of 103%.  QandANJ costs $300,000.  In 2008, we had 34,488 sessions and in 2010, we had 26,447 sessions for a decrease of 23%.  Of the three choices, I came to the conclusion that QandANJ was the project that, unfortunately, had to end.

The NJLA Reference Section is having a meeting on QandANJ on May 13th and has requested time to reevaluate the future of QandANJ.  I don’t have $300,000.  I have $50,000 slotted for statewide-funded projects which have not yet been implemented, which we shared with LNRB in February.  That includes the early literacy summit, the workforce summit and money for preservation.  I will ask LibraryLinkNJ to extend our contract with them using that $50,000 to extend QandANJ for as long as possible, giving the NJLA Reference Section time to search for funding, find other options or properly wind down the service, if necessary.  This way the NJLA Reference Section can make a presentation to the LNRB/LSTA Strategic Planning Committee, the group evaluating statewide services and recommending actions to me in the context of a statewide plan.

Like everyone else, the New Jersey State Library is searching for better ways to communicate with more of our constituents.  This year I started monthly webinars.  We launched our new interactive website, allowing staff to update the field on a regular basis and receive comments.  I started tweeting so I can get out more information faster.  NJSL uses our Facebook page extensively.  Our staff continues to meet with new directors and trustees, and with library groups like LibraryLinkNJ, VALE, NJLA, NJASL and NJALA on a frequent basis. LDB is again starting to do library site visits. We always welcome your comments.  My name, email and phone number are on the website for you to use.  I do value your opinions.

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