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System Director's Report:

December 2004

Looking Forward to the New Year

2005 promises to be a year of big issues for the Wisconsin public library community. First on the list is the state budget. What we are able to achieve with regard to system funding will probably determine whether or not the service network we have built up over the last 30+ years will survive into the future. Next is the concept of a tax freeze, whether a constitutional amendment such as TABOR, or some other similar flavor of legislation. Colorado, the home of TABOR, cut its state library funding by almost 80% in response to the measure, and municipal libraries took huge and crippling hits in local support. Will Wisconsin be next? Third is the revived concept that public libraries should somehow be responsible for the content of the Internet. Rumor has it that legislation may be introduced this session to try to force libraries to censor patron access accordingly.

The list goes on. Within the legislative arena we still hope for passage of our library "reform" bill, which would help with the issue of crossover borrowing, and of proposed "district" legislation, which would give local libraries a more powerful alternative than exists at present to form larger cooperative units and to deliver service more effectively.

Still at the state level, but outside the legislative process, is the question of how the state will conduct interloan both within and beyond its borders in the future. The state has just issued a "request for information" to vendors which appears to seek a continuation of our current system, and SRLAAW (the system directors and resource organization) has made recommendations that we go in quite a different direction. Within our own system we face the problems inherent to gearing up for our "great leap forward" to a new generation shared automated system, the need to cope with ever increasing customer use as reflected by delivery demand, and the ongoing need of our members for consultation regarding everything from new buildings to new technology.

In short, everything is in complete turmoil, and I have no idea how it will all turn out. What I do know, however, is that we have an exceptionally able and creative library community, which takes such challenges as a matter of course. I therefore look forward to our future, not with trepidation, but with anticipation. Welcome to 2005.

Of the Season, Again

My very favorite response to what I wrote last month came from one of Ann's friends. She noted that although her mother had gotten tearful after reading it, she suspected the problem was hormonal, as the thought of me out looking up at the stars did nothing for her. You win some, and you lose some. I love it!

See you on the 10th.