Thursday, May 13, 2010

WMRLS Exec Board Vote on MLS Merger

Dear WMRLS Staff, Member Libraries and other library colleagues:

After lengthy and heartfelt discussion yesterday, the Executive Board of the Western Massachusetts Regional Library System (WMRLS) voted – 8 in favor, 2 opposed, and 1 abstaining – to proceed with the merger of WMRLS into the Massachusetts Library System (MLS). This vote was made on the condition that the Agreement of Merger document will be amended to call for regional corporations to remain in a “dormant” state instead of terminating entirely when the merger goes into effect.

This vote by the Executive Board gives the voting representatives of the WMRLS Council of Members the opportunity to vote for or against the merger at its meeting on May 25 at the Agawam Public Library. A 2/3 vote of the entire voting membership needs to approve the merger in order for it to take place. Similar voting opportunities are taking place in the other regions as well. We are preparing information to explain the consequences of votes in favor of, or in opposition to, the merger so that informed decisions can be made. We hope as many of our member libraries will join in the discussion and the vote.

We do not know the final outcome of the State budget process for MBLC Regional account 7000-9401, and whether it will call for 2 regions or not. The House of Representatives approved such language in its version of the FY11 budget, as proposed by many Western legislators in response to the concerns expressed by their constituents. The Senate is working right now on its version of the budget. It will be several weeks before the final version of the State budget will be determined.

In the meantime, the Board wishes to encourage member libraries and ALL library advocates and support organizations across the State to unite and work tirelessly on behalf of a restoration of funds for the regional account. Instead of the 29% reduction currently called for in the Governor’s and House versions of the budget, the figures being sought are the $14.8 million statutory funding levels (from the MBLC Legislative Agenda) or at least the $12.3 million in the current FY10 account. State funding for regional services has made possible cost-effective and valued services to libraries and residents across the State since the 1960s. That work must continue at adequate funding levels for the benefit of all libraries.

Yours truly, John Ramsay, Regional Administrator

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