Addressing Legislators for Library Funding

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I delivered the following 3-minute address to Senator George Gainer and Representative Brad Drake at the Washington County Legislative Delegation Meeting yesterday. My purpose was to ensure ongoing funding for Florida’s Multitype Library Cooperatives. Renae Rountree, the Director of Washington County Public Libraries, and PLAN’s Board President, was also present and spoke for State Aid for Libraries funding. Speakers were allowed three minutes to address the delegates.

“Good morning Senator Gainer and Representative Drake. My name is Charles Mayberry. I am the Executive Director of the Panhandle Library Access Network (PLAN). Thank you for the opportunity to speak here today.

I’m here to thank you for your ongoing support for Florida’s five Library Cooperatives. Specifically, I want to thank you for the conversion of our line item in the state budget from ‘non-recurring’ to ‘recurring’ status.

My organization, PLAN, is one of the five library cooperatives. It is composed of forty-two member libraries and library systems across the Panhandle. Some of PLAN’s libraries in your districts include:

  • Bay County’s Public Libraries;
  • Florida State University’s Panama City Campus library;
  • The libraries in Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Jackson, and Washington Counties;
  • Gulf Coast State College Library, Northwest Florida State College, and others.

PLAN member libraries have a combined total of 193 locations (branch and campus libraries) to serve our citizens. At last count, 946,516 citizens in the Panhandle have library cards. More than 900 staff members work in PLAN libraries and serve those citizens.

Here’s why the Florida Library Cooperatives are important:

The cooperatives provide the umbrella organization under which individual libraries can share resources and reduce their costs. State funding for the library cooperatives provides $400,000 each for PLAN and the other four library cooperatives, a total of $2 million. This amount is spread very thinly over the Panhandle region, but it delivers a tremendous ‘bang for the buck.’

For example, PLAN provides its libraries with, a cooperative purchasing program; a vendor discount program; and, shared staff training activities. Through these services PLAN saves its member libraries money and ensures that even the smallest libraries have access to technology and resources that they could never afford by themselves.

The cooperatives provide direct and close-in support for their libraries. We interact personally and frequently with our library directors and staff. Directors from Panhandle libraries comprise the controlling Board of PLAN. Ms. Renae Rountree, who is here today from the Washington County Public Library, is the President of PLAN’s Board. Thus the needs of your constituents are heard and supported locally, in your districts.

In closing, I would like to thank both of you for the good work that you are doing on behalf of our communities in the Panhandle, and beyond. And, thank you for your continuing support of our libraries, important community assets here, and across the State of Florida.”

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