The Federal Budget and Your Public Library

It is sometimes difficult to connect the federal budget with local services, but we now have an opportunity to give our input into budget priorities. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) has announced a new website (http://budget.senate.gov/democratic/index.cfm/mybudget) where citizens can voice their budget priorities. Sen. Murray is the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. “I want to bring the voices of the American people into a budget process and conversation that is too often limited to bureaucrats and politicians,” said Chairman Patty Murray.
“It is obvious that the services of the Rochester Hills Public Library are seen as one of the most important public services in the area,” said public library director Christine Lind Hage. 64% of the people in Rochester, Rochester Hills or Oakland Township have used the Rochester Hills Public Library or bookmobile in the last year. On a national scale 59% of Americans used library services.
Throughout the economic downturn, people have increasingly turned to the local library for information on a wide range of subjects, including job searching. In fact, according to the American Library Association, in one year, 30 million Americans used library connections to search and apply for jobs. Over 92% of libraries provide access to job databases and online job applications including the Rochester Hills Public Library.
In 2012 over 122,000 people used either the public computers or wireless connection in the Rochester Hills Public Library to access the Internet. “I think this is pretty impressive considering the number or our residents that have Internet connectivity in their homes or workplace or on a mobile device,” said Hage. “We noticed that our connection was slowing down particularly in the afternoons, so in January of this year we increased our bandwidth from 17 Mbps to 50 Mbps.” The library’s computer usage has increased 25% since the upgrade. The system is not only faster it is significantly more stable.
Libraries provide an important link between the government and the public – when people need to research court cases, look up a fact from an Environmental Protection Agency study or file their taxes they come to the library to do it. But the library isn’t just for adults.
Studies show that a child’s brain develops the most between birth and age three. The Rochester Hills Public Library supports parents and caregivers with early childhood literacy programs that train care givers in how to read to children, encourage parents in engaging in their children’s literacy development and are designed to help young children learn to read. The Library was recently named a Family Place Library.
So what does the federal budget do for the Rochester Hills Public Library? The key service the Library receives is free access to online databases. These databases are leased by the State of Michigan with Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) money. LSTA funding helps libraries meet community needs, better utilize technology to provide enhanced services, reach underserved populations, and much more. It also frees up local dollars to provide the services mentioned above. The Library also receives E-Rate money that helps underwrite Internet connectivity and plain old telephone service.
“I encourage everyone in the community to add comments to the Federal Budget website (http://budget.senate.gov/democratic/index.cfm/mybudget). Let the Senate Budget Committee know how important your library is to you and our community,” said Hage. In particular you should mention E-Rate and LSTA funding.
The Rochester Hills Public Library is located in downtown Rochester off of University Drive and 3 blocks east of Main Street. The library is open from 9 – 9 Monday through Thursday and 9 – 6 on Fridays and Saturday and from 1 – 6 on Sundays. The library’s website (www.rhpl.org) has information on how to register for a card and access all of the library’s services.

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About Tom and Ann Gendich

Founders of Rochester Media. Looking to provide great local news to all people in and around Rochester and Rochester Hills. Send them a note at info@rochestermedia.com.

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