Tax up close and personal

In November of 2008,  56% of Minnesota voters approved what has come to  be known as the Legacy Amendment. The goal of the Amendment is to appropriate money from constitutionally dedicated funds and provide for policy and governance of outdoor heritage, clean water, parks and trails, and arts and cultural heritage purposes.

The Amendment raised the state sales tax 3/8 of 1%, starting July 1, 2009 and lasting 25 years. Libraries were included in the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund of the legislation, which will receive 19.75% of the sales tax generated each year. This Fund will be divided among many recipients, including the following:

  • Board of Arts (with opportunities for partnerships with libraries and schools)
  • Regional Public Library funding for arts and arts education programs (will receive $4.25 million in FY 2010 and $4.25 in FY 2011)
  • Minnesota Digital Library (will receive $500,000 in FY 2010)

Public Library funding for arts and arts education programs is allocated to the 12 regional public library systems according to the current regional library basic system support (RLBSS) grant formula.  In addition to our local programming, ECRL will participate along with the other regional public library systems to fund a state project to bring arts and culture into libraries.

Libraries will be good stewards of this money. As the center of our communities, we are looked to as cultural leaders. The Legacy Amendment funds will enable us to bring even more cultural experiences to communities from the metro area to the rural areas commonly referred to collectively as Greater Minnesota.

I’ve been planning with my staff and board for how we can best use this money. Little thought has gone to where it comes from — after all, it’s only 3/8 of 1% sales tax. That’s hardly noticeable at all.

That’s what I thought until this morning. Almost every day on my way to work I stop at the local Holiday station to feed my addiction with a large Diet Coke. I run into the station store with a dollar and a nickle clutched in my hand to pay for the 99 cent drink. Trouble is, today when I stopped to pay on my way out the door and held out the dollar bill and nickel in my hand, the clerk said $1.06. I must have looked puzzled, because she quickly added, “that’s that new culture tax.” The tone in her voice indicated she didn’t share my positive view of the “culture tax.”

Hmmm, a tax no one’ll notice? Not exactly.  So now I carry in a dollar and a nickel and a penney.

Day of the American Cowboy

Today, July 28th, is National Day of the American Cowboy, introduced into the Senate by Wyoming Senator Thomas Craig* on March 21, 2007 and passed by the Senate May 25, 2007. S. Res. 130 .

The Cowboy is not only an American tradition, but a very real part of western life, which I grew to appreciate while living in South Dakota. The opening lines of the resolution relate the importance of the American Cowboy very well:

  • Whereas pioneering men and women, recognized as cowboys, helped establish the American West;
  • Whereas that cowboy spirit continues to infuse this country with its solid character, sound family values, and good common sense;
  • Whereas the cowboy embodies honesty, integrity, courage, compassion, respect, a strong work ethic, and patriotism;
  • Whereas the cowboy loves, lives off of, and depends on the land and its creatures, and is an excellent steward, protecting and enhancing the environment;
  • Whereas the cowboy continues to play a significant role in the culture and economy of the United States;
  • Whereas approximately 800,000 ranchers are conducting business in all 50 States and are contributing to the economic well being of nearly every county in the Nation;
  • resolution continues

Some of the best library programs we sponsored in South Dakota featured cowboy poets. There’s a great cowboy poetry site Cowboy Music and Poetry from the Western Folklife Center in Elko Nevada. For a modern poet, I especially like Linda Hasselstrom. Read or listen to her Carolyn, Miranda, and Me.

*Senator Thomas served in the Senate for 12 years, and died June 4, 2007 of complications of leukemia following treatment. (Wikipedia)

No threat at DDR

All the kids who hang out at teen night at the Chatfield Public Library have nothing to fear from me — I’ll never beat them at DDR (Dance Dance Revolution.) It was fun to try it, though. Monica, the Chatfield PL Director set up DDR as a demonstration for the other librarians as a warm up for their regular meeting yesterday. A few tried it, more watched. But what a great thing they’ve got going in Chatfield for the kids. Now here’s another one of those “if I had a library posts” . . . .

Of course, if I managed to keep my feet in the center of the controller, I’d have done a lot better.
Monica and Barbara

However, 2 of my colleagues have it down to “perfect” — Congrats AJ and JP! How cool is this?
Aurora and Jonya

Pimping library carts

From the Racine Report blog of the Journal Times . . . . yesterday the Racine Public Library (in Wisconsin) had a “Pimp my Cart” contest for teens. Sounds like the 12 kids who participated had a lot of fun. The contest was based on the MTV show “Pimp My Ride.” The kids tricked out library carts, and the library has pledged to use the book carts, although it sounds like one of them, dubbed “Road Kill” and made out of parts from an old Honda motorcycle and two wheels from a Chevrolet Camaro, will have trouble cruising the aisles in the stacks. All the carts will be displayed outside during Monday’s Hot Rod Power Tour in Racine.

Racine Public Library joins many other libraries in trying novel ways to appeal to kids and get them to the library. Good for them!

What I find remarkable is the public comments (21 of them at the time of this posting) that follow the blog post — many of which miss the point of the activity and use the opportunity to bad mouth the library. Here are some examples (exact quotes):

  • Computers and the internet have reduced library use! Millions of books are being “digitized” and will soon be available on the web! Libraries are offering many new services and gimmicks in their attempt to “survive”! Unsupervised internet access for children, coffee shops, DVD rentals, travel tours, gimmicks like this! The libraries know in the years to come, they face extinction!
  • This is sad. The library sets the bar for our youth so low that MTV can make it over. It is insulting to the teens of Racine. They should have more respect for our youth!
  • Will the library director eventually concede this was a dated, contrived, and somewhat demeaning promotion?
  • Honestly, I’d prefer my kids stay away from the libraries– with no limits on the content the patrons can access on the internet, no limits on what kids can check out (R rated movies included), and the declining quality of juvenile literature (did YOU know that your 11 year old is considered a YOUNG ADULT? The YA designation references a great number of books that contain graphic teen sex, violence, drug use, many of which are NOT in any way appropriate for 11 year olds, or most teens in general, if you care at all what your kids are exposed to).
  • I think the library needs to grow a pair and impose appropriate limits on what kids can check out and what adults can access on the internet. How simple is that? Apparently not simple enough.Until that happens, I’ll discourage my older kids from hanging out at the library. We’ll teach them about sex and drug use and the wiles of internet porn in our own time, thank you very much.

Uff-da! Here’s a public relations challenge for the Racine PL director. Here’s hoping for a turn in the comments trend.