BILLINGS — Reductions in revenue for Montana libraries because of cuts in coal severance taxes are prompting cutbacks in money spent on research databases, forcing some people to rely on the internet because libraries are losing access to scholarly articles.
The Montana State Library was told earlier this year it would lose $46,000 in expected tax revenue for the current 2015-17 budget. Another $166,000 was cut in May.
State Librarian Jennie Stapp said the state library had about $943,000 in coal severance tax revenue budgeted for 2016-17 financial years out of a two-year budget of about $12 million. However, the database funding can only come from the tax revenue.
A state library task force said giving up access to the databases was the best way to reduce costs, and Stapp agreed, the Billings Gazette reported.
A letter sent out to libraries May 25 says “given the extreme circumstances we face, we believe we are making the best choices available to us that will allow us to continue to serve libraries and Montanans in every corner of our state.”
The databases include thousands of scholarly, peer-reviewed articles published in academic journals.
Billings school libraries are trying to find other ways to get limited access to the databases, which comes at a cost. “It means we’re going to be able to get fewer books, and do less programs, get less technology,” Billings West High School librarian Brittany Alberson said.
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