Along with many redevelopment agencies, public libraries in California have taken up the fight against Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal.

The state's public libraries are faced with $30.4 million in cuts should Brown's budget be adopted.

Brown is proposing to eliminate three sources of funding for the libraries, including the Public Library Foundation, transaction based reimbursement and the California Library Literacy Program.

"Given the fact that the governor has to close a $26 billion gap, this is one of any number of areas to cut back or oppose funding outright," said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the state Department of Finance.

The Public Library Foundation, at $12.

Library aide Mary Hodge is reflected in a mirror as she shelves books Thursday at the Upland Public Library. Gov. Jerry Brown hasproposed eliminating three
Library aide Mary Hodge is reflected in a mirror as she shelves books Thursday at the Upland Public Library. Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed eliminating three sources of funding of the state s public libraries, which would equal $30.4 million in cuts. (Jennifer Cappuccio Maher/Staff Photographer)
9 million, provides libraries with funding for core operation costs, staffing, hours of operation, purchase of books and materials.

The Library Literacy Program, at $4.5 million, enables libraries to offer literacy tutoring to English-speaking adults.

Transaction based reimbursement funding, at $12.9 million, promotes resource sharing among libraries.

Local libraries are reimbursed a portion of the handling costs when they loan materials to other libraries.

If the reimbursement funding is eliminated, the Inland Library System may not survive, said Ed Kieczykowski, interim director.

The system is a public library cooperative serving 19 libraries in San Bernardino, Riverside and Inyo counties.

"I don't think this cooperative would survive because it would take a lot of local money to keep it going, and you might have guessed a lot of local libraries have financial issues," Kieczykowski said.

As library funding continues to decrease, the use of libraries has grown substantially, especially over the past couple of years during the economic downturn, said Paymaneh Maghsoudi, president of the California Library Association and director of the Whittier Public Library.

Public libraries provide access to the Internet as well as various programs for students and job seekers.

Lobbyists for the California Library Association have been meeting with state legislators to express the impact the cuts would have on libraries.

They have had hearings in front of the Assembly and Senate budget subcommittees on the matter.

The Assembly Budget Subcommittee met Feb. 7 and took no action on the cuts but left them open to be revisited.

"There's some empathy in the Legislature to not completely eliminate these programs," Kieczykowski said. "To what degree? That's a very good question, but it's been reduced over the years."

The Public Library Fund has been reduced by 75percent over the years, Kieczykowski said.

"So it's just a continuing downward spiral," he said.

The Association is encouraging libraries and library users to contact their legislators to oppose the cuts.

Larry Burgess, director of the A.K. Smiley Public Library in Redlands, said his library is at risk of losing positions.

"Right now it's going to be very difficult for us because we have some part-time positions that will be affected," Burgess said. "The funding has been so reduced over the last decade that we've been preparing for the inevitable. When Gov. Brown was governor the first time, he had cut (the Public Library Foundation) quite a bit."

The Smiley Library is not part of the Inland Library System, so Burgess said it will not see the impact of losing those transaction funds.

Rather the potential loss of Public Library Foundation funds is what worries him.

"When I first came in 25 years ago this month as library director, we were drawing as much as $48,000 from PLF, and today we're drawing about $26,500," Burgess said. "That's constantly lower every year."