State budget affects library users

Fiscal Year 2011 doesn’t begin until July 2010, but the long state budget process has already begun, and the news is not good. The executive branch has given the Board of Library Commissioners 16% less to work with than the current year, which is already down to 1997 levels.

What does this have to do with library services to Waltham residents? The Public Library, the Minuteman Library Network and the Metrowest Region depend on state funds in order to maintain key services. Among the uses for state funds in libraries:

· Telecommunications (Internet connection and online catalog) and resource sharing (Virtual Catalog of statewide holdings)

· The Talking Book Library – for residents with disabilities unable to read printed books – providing access to the world of news, fiction and nonfiction

· The delivery service that makes our very popular inter-library loan system work (43,286 items received from other libraries in Waltham in FY09 and 86,521 items provided from Waltham to other libraries in the same period)

· Online access to the full text of the New York Times and several Massachusetts Newspapers, including the Globe and Herald, back to the 1980’s

· Compensation for the cost of loaning tens of thousands of items to non-Waltham residents from the Waltham Public Library each year

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners held a budget session for public comment yesterday at the Sargent Memorial Library in Boxborough. In addition, a special Board meeting to address budget issues is scheduled for October 6 at the Board’s office in Boston. Follow these links to find out more about these meetings and opportunities to comment and the proposed budget plan.

Please also consider attending one of the upcoming opportunities to speak to and hear from your elected officials:

Waltham Town Hall 2009 will be held Oct. 2, 7, 14, 23, 6-8 p.m., Cafe on the Common, 677 Main Street. Friday’s forum will feature state Senator Susan Fargo, State Representative Peter Koutoujian, Mayor Jeannette McCarthy, and an aide to Congressman Edward Markey.

The League of Women Voters of Waltham will co-sponsor candidates’ nights at Waltham High with the Waltham West Suburban Chamber of Commerce. School Committee candidates are Oct. 8, 7:30 p.m. At-large City Council candidates are Oct. 22, 7 p.m.


  1. Comment by Tammy Rose
    October 6, 2009 @ 1:28 pm

    I will be out of town for all of these dates, otherwise I’d show up with a huge picket sign. The WPL is a major resource for everyone, especially in these times of financial downturn. Is there a way to create an online petition that would make an impression or provide support? Also, are there any tasks that could be done by community volunteers, to alleviate the load on the library staff? Thanks for the blog and FB posts BTW!!

  2. Comment by Kate
    October 6, 2009 @ 5:30 pm

    At this point, you can help by including library services in your conversations and correspondence with elected officials. Politicians at all levels will continue to face difficult decisions about funding for library services in addition to police, fire, schools, health and social services. Let them know that libraries matter to you.

    The Massachusetts Library Association’s site is a good source for alerts about library-related votes at the state and federal levels: or click from

    In Waltham, a growing number of volunteers is helping the staff keep the library in order these days. Most volunteer jobs involve straightening, shelving and retrieving library materials; some volunteers assist with Friends publicity, data entry, and other tasks. There are volunteer applications at the circulation desks.

    Thank you for asking!

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