Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Update for March 11, 2009

March 11, 2009 update regarding legislation relevant to Indiana’s Public Libraries

This is a long overdue update (there is a logical reason for no posts to this blog) about what has been happening in “Library Land” regarding current issues before the Indiana Senate and House. Regardless of recent happenings, the worst thing we can do is to let down our guard. Kernan-Shepard will not go away and I can't emphasize enough that it must be dealt with. Additional thanks should go to Senator Gard for her support!

In July 2008 I attended a joint meeting of Librarians representing large, medium and small Public Libraries in Indiana and officials from the Indiana State Library. The reason for this meeting was to come up with options and alternatives to the Kernan-Sheppard report (link: which, in short, would have consolidated all of Indiana’s Public Libraries into 92 consolidated units. The Kernan-Shepard report proposed too much of a cookie cutter approach to local government and took control of public libraries away from their representative communities. Voiced, but never in print, was the possibility of privatizing Indiana’s Public Libraries much like the Indiana Toll Road.

The Coalition, with much valued assistance from the Indiana State Library, assisted in the hiring of Wooden and Associates from Lexington, Kentucky to assist in the creation of alternatives to strict public library consolidation. With the assistance of the Consultants, the Coalition came up with five different governance models. It was intended that each county would form its own library planning committee and would utilize the model which most benefitted that county.

The final product of the Coalition was presented to Indiana Librarians at the Indiana Library Federation Conference in Indianapolis, in November and was then formally presented to the Legislative Committee of the Indiana Library Federation. After the Legislative Committee approved the actions proposed it was taken by Senator Beverly Guard (R, 28) and presented to the Indiana Senate as Senate Bill 348.

During its voyage through the Senate the bill underwent some changes much to the chagrin of some in the Public Library community. Eventually there were additional amendments to the bill that would allow libraries to opt out of any plans that would involve consolidation. The bill passed the senate and was then introduced into the Indiana House.

When in Committee in the House, Bill 348 was integrated with Senate Bill 452 which dealt with additional recommendations from the Kernan-Shepard report. During committee action it was agreed that the amendments be taken together and then put into a single bill. When it came time for the bill to exit out of committee it failed.

As of today (March 11, 2009) there will be no local government reform as far as it concerns public libraries. The initial library bill can be picked-up and integrated into a different bill, but strict rules apply.


Amidst the legislative session, the members of the Coalition overwhelmingly agreed to combine forces with the already established Public Library Association of the Indiana Library Federation. Since the initial goal of the Coalition has been met, there was no further reason for its existence. Instead of abandoning all that had been worked for and learned merging under the PLA umbrella made the most sense.

The Coalition will work under PLA and resume work as necessary utilizing everything that has been put together to date and may propose additional legislation in the fall of 2009. Not dealing with the way in which Indiana’s Public Libraries are governed is not going to be the best way of dealing with the overall property tax situation. Even though we are part of a larger problem, it is still our problem and Indiana Librarians will see to it that reasonable legislation is put forth. Kernan-Shepard is here and can be effectively dealt with, but not by tearing apart small communities by consolidating their Public Libraries.


A though provoking and truthful article appears in the March 1, 2008 issue of Library Journal regarding public libraries and consolidation. The article is on page 8. Link:


The Indiana Township Association has a substantive study regarding government consolidation in Indiana. It may be found at:


Relevant articles concerning this issue.

These articles will only be available for a short time, generally seven days. After that time the articles are archived.

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