Millbury Sutton Chronicle
By Rachel Ettlinger, Reporter
MILLBURY — Librarians from all over Central Massachusetts met in the Millbury Public Library for a legislative breakfast to discuss upcoming budget concerns and advocacy on behalf of community libraries in local government.
In an event sponsored by the Central/Western Massachusetts Automated Resource Sharing Inc. (CWMARS) and the Friends of the Millbury Public Library, area library representatives and elected officials spoke on Feb. 1 about the upcoming budget season, and how residents can be involved and voice their opinions.
Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioner (MBLC) Vice Chair Mary Ann Cluggish said she wanted to encourage advocacy on behalf of the library, as well as education on how much value libraries add to communities.
“Legislators are not simply hearing from enough of us,” Cluggish told the crowd during breakfast in the Millbury Public Library. In hoping for a “tsunami of support,” Cluggish said her goal was to have at least 10 individuals from each community in the state contact their local legislators to advocate on behalf of librarians.
But Cluggish took issue with two budget line items in the MBLC’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Request.
The first, item 9401, is the state aid to regional libraries, which is cited in the handout as decreasing by 41 percent to $10,282,140 from a high in FY2002 at $17,623,954.
The second, item 9506, provides funds for library technology and resource sharing and is proposed to decrease by 36 percent to $2,815,928 from its high in FY2001 at $4,420,235.
Cluggish demanded these line items be made a priority. “Nothing else will do,” she said.
Sen. Michael Moore (D-Millbury), who attended the breakfast and spoke to the attendees, said he “strongly agrees to contact legislators” regarding budget advocacy. But he said he wanted to assure that local government representatives make funding for libraries a priority.
“As a legislator, and as a father, I recognize the important contributions that libraries make to our communities, and especially to our families,” Moore wrote to Facebook following his appearance at the breakfast.
Moore stressed that the need for libraries in communities is great. He agreed with Cluggish and said it is important for both legislators and library officials to promote library resources not only for books but also for information and technology.
CWMARS representative Jeanette Lundgren spoke at the event and emphasized the importance of libraries as tools for those entering the workforce for career-building assistance and advice.
Lundgren thanked the library representatives who attended the breakfast and said the two line items highlighted during Cluggish’s speech “keep things cost-effective and affordable,” especially for smaller communities.
Representative Paul K. Frost (R-Millbury) also spoke at the event, recalling his first bill signed when he was elected to office in 1996 as being for the Millbury and Oxford libraries’ construction.
“Your advocacy is welcome and needed,” he said. ”...Times are changing...Our libraries are changing with them.”