Utah's librarians don't think much of the tax-initiative proposals. They're putting the word out in various ways that if the initiatives pass, libraries around the state will have shorter hours and fewer books.
The Salt Lake County Library Board went on record this week against the tax initiatives.County Commissioner Mike Stewart, who sits on the board, told other members that while county employees cannot take official positions on the measures, the board can, because it is a citizen panel.
Library Director Eileen Longsworth said the initiatives would cut the county system's tax revenues by 32.5 percent and its total revenues by 39 percent.
She said the anticipated effects include closure of the Draper and Alta branch libraries, elimination of bookmobile service, closure of all libraries on Fridays, shortened hours on other days and elimination of all new construction, including the Taylorsville and Sandy branches.
Longsworth said school and university libraries would also be hurt by the initiatives. "Marriott Library (at the University of Utah) is in serious trouble now," and Weber State College students have already voted their own money to help buy materials for their library, she said.
Interruption of periodical subscriptions is one of the worst effects of budget cutbacks on libraries, Longsworth said, because the missed issues cannot be purchased when money becomes available later.
But anymore, because of tax-law rulings, it's the same with books too - publishers print fewer copies and get rid of them quickly, so many books cannot be purchased after the year when they're published.
Salt Lake City Public Library officials say that if the tax initiatives pass, the city system will have to cut hours and staff by a third, trim book purchases by half, cut maintenance by 21 percent and put its building program on indefinite hold.
Although the library board has taken no position on the initiatives, board member J. Boyer Jarvis said at the September meeting: "We very much hope that voters in November will realize that these initiatives are ill-advised - maybe well-intentioned," but their consequences for the library would be severe.
Library Director Dennis Day said city library system revenue would drop by 42 percent if the initiatives pass.
Board President James Giauque said a 42 percent cut would be especially unfortunate now, because the library's programs seem to really be taking hold in the community.
August circulation was up 10 percent over August of last year, and circulation for the 12 months ending Aug. 31 was up 4 percent over the year ending Aug. 31, 1987.
Day said the main library in Salt Lake City has higher circulation than the main libraries in several larger cities, including Detroit, Dallas, New Orleans, Oakland, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Denver and San Diego.
The Utah Library Association opposes the tax initiatives and is urging others to do so.
The association is selling lawn signs and lapel buttons to raise money for Taxpayers for Utah. And the librarians are encouraging people to decorate their cars, yards and lapels with green ribbon to signify a pro-growth position.
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