Tue, March 01, 2016

State Library Archives and Museums Budget Cuts

Help!!!  State House and Senate Finance Committee members need to hear from you that the State Libraries Archives and Museums program provides critical services to Alaskans.  The House Finance Subcommittee on Education recommended draconian cuts to the division—totaling nearly $2.7 million.  If sustained, the division would lose at least eight positions.  The cuts would impact services provided for records managers, students, researchers, museum visitors and libraries.  And the proposed cut to the Online with Libraries (OWL) program would mean that 44 public libraries would lose assistance paying for broadband and preclude providing training and holding meetings by eliminating the videoconferencing capability.

This week the House Finance Committee is taking public testimony—the schedule for the remaining times is below.  Other ways to speak for the State Libraries Archives and Museums are through emails, phone calls, office visits, and letters.

Wednesday, March 2

1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. – Anchorage
4:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. – Sitka, Petersburg, Delta Junction, Unalaska, Glennallen & Tok
7 p.m. to 8 p.m. – *Off Net sites

Thursday, March 3

1 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Bethel, Cordova, Kotzebue, Nome, Valdez, Wrangell
4:15 to 6 p.m. – *Off Net sites

*Off Net sites are those communities without a Legislative Information Office, or LIO. Please only call during the listed times. Call 907-465-4648 before 5 p.m. to get the call-in number. LIOs are listed here.

The cuts include:

•                    ($500,000) – Reduce Library operations (HouseSub)

o   Loss of approximately 4 positions through layoff or attrition

o   Significant reduction in funds for collections: we are less able to collect and preserve Alaskan history in the form of reports, books, newspapers, etc.

•                    ($500,000) – Reduce Museums operations (HouseSub)

o   Loss of approximately 4 positions through layoff or attrition, including 1 Museum Visitor/Security position in Sitka and 2 in Juneau.

§  Museum Visitor/Security positions are critical to safety and security of collections and visitor services.

§  Could mean fewer hours of operation, no Hands-On Loan (of objects) program for schools, fewer classroom visits, fewer children’s museum activities.

§  Difficulty collecting program receipts to help cover operating costs

o   No new items may be purchased for the museum collections; objects important to Alaska history/culture could be lost to the state

•                    ($20,500) – Reduce Archives operations (HouseSub)

o   Less travel for records officer training, which we offer to school districts, municipalities and state government, on how to keep and manage essential records

o   Less ability to purchase needed supplies, equipment, etc., or pursue (by purchase or litigation) public records that should be owned by the state

•                    ($761,800) – Eliminate GF for Online with Libraries (OWL)(HouseSub)

o   The OWL program supports

§  Internet costs for 43 of the smallest rural Alaskan public libraries

§  Videoconferencing: equipment, conference bridge, scheduling and archiving for meetings, lectures, courses, and cultural programs.

  • OWL is a viable and growing alternative to travel for state government; desktop videoconferencing is available from home/office/business.

•                    School Broadband Assistance Grants (School BAG) Reductions

§  The School BAG program assists certain poorer rural school districts in paying for internet download speeds of up to 10 mbps (based on internet capacity in 2014)

§  State School BAG funds pay $3,353,886 (7%) of the total internet costs for 141 schools in Alaska. These School BAG funds leverage $40,592,338 in E-Rate funds, which covers 87% of the schools’ internet costs. These schools pay the remaining 6% of these internet costs.

•                   ($917,300) – Eliminate UGF Portion of Broadband Access Grant Program (HouseSub)

§  Added to the governor’s reductions, this takes $1.590 million from the program; leaves $1.8m.

§  With cuts LAM could fill about 50% of need, based on FY 2016 application

§  Reduction in the federal E-Rate dollars leveraged

House Finance Committee

  • Mark Neuman (Big Lake), Co-chair
  • Steve Thompson (Fairbanks), Co-chair
  • Dan Saddler (Eagle River), Vice-chair
  • Lynn Gattis (Wasilla), Education subcommittee
  • Mike Hawker (Anchorage), Education subcommittee

To email:  Representative.[first name]

Senate Finance Committee

  •             Pete Kelly (Fairbanks), Co-chair
  •             Anna McKinnon (Anchorage), Co-chair
  •             Peter Micciche (Soldotna), Vice-chair
  •             Mike Dunleavy (Wasilla), Education subcommittee

To email:  Senator.[first name]

Please contact the folks above and your legislators.  Pass this information on to your colleagues and friends, too.  Time is of the essence.