Idaho’s librarians are asking Gov. Phil Batt and the Legislature for funding that will put access to books and magazines in small communities on par with the largest libraries.
The Idaho State Library is leading a campaign on behalf of the more than 700 locally-funded public libraries in the state to connect all of them through the Internet and to provide huge magazine databases to library users.
They have submitted two requests to Batt for inclusion in his budget proposal to lawmakers.
The first request, a one-time allocation of $60,000, would buy software to allow incompatible computers at different libraries to communicate more easily through an Internet site known as LiLI, or Libraries Linking Idaho.
Patrons could find books held in any Idaho library.
The second request is $465,000 per year for a statewide license giving all libraries on-line access to 1,500 complete magazines, plus parts of 1,500 others.
Anne Abrams, state library special projects coordinator, believes the program would be invaluable in a state where more than 80 percent of public and school libraries have Internet access, but the average number of magazine subscriptions in each is 33.
She said the periodical database will allow patrons to enhance their careers and students to improve their education.
Eventually, she said, library card holders may be able to dial in from home and access the magazine database.
“This is probably the biggest thing for Idaho libraries in the last 10 years,” Abrams said.
The problem is the libraries are completely funded at the local level, meaning those in small towns would never have the opportunity to provide the same services
While a $465,000 annual appropriation may seem large, it works out to about 39 cents from each Idaho resident, Abrams said. In Utah, the contribution is 37 cents; in Wyoming, it’s 89 cents; and in Montana it’s 67 cents.
All those states have access to the types of databases Abrams wants for Idaho.