Speak Out Now About Proposed Library Budget Cuts!

In 1955, the founders of the Dallas Genealogical Society set out the goals for the society in its charter. Among these was the objective “to assist and support the  Genealogy Section of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in Dallas, Texas, or to its legal successor.”

When the new downtown library building was being planned, the Dallas Morning News, in an article by Henry Tatum on 4 Aug 1977, called the downtown site the “Central Research Library” and stated that then mayor Robert Folsom distributed to the council materials describing the need for a research facility.

The current proposed Dallas City Council budget plan will severely limit access to most floors of the central library. Floors 3 through 8 will be open Thursday through Sunday for a total time of only 24 hours. These floors make the central library the prime research library for the city of Dallas. None of the branch libraries provide the resources found there. The central library will open floors 1 and 2 Tuesday through Sunday, as if this part were a branch library. In addition, the central library staff will be reduced by nearly half. All staff who shelve books will be let go, leaving reference librarians to do
this work instead of answering patrons’ questions.

Reduced access and staff for the Genealogy section of the library will hinder research efforts. Many of the other floors provide resources used by genealogists and other types of researchers. Among these are:

  • History/social science (8th),
  • Texas/Dallas history and archives (7th),
  • Government publications and maps (6th),
  • Business and technology (5th), and
  • Humanities newspaper collection (3rd).

The reduction in hours also hampers community use of meeting rooms located on 3rd, 5th, 7th and 8th floors, making scheduling of available rooms more difficult.

Even if you do not live in the City of Dallas or are not a member of the Dallas Genealogical Society, you are in a decisive position to provide the Dallas City Council with information on the value of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library as city budget cuts are being debated.

Individuals from outside of the city who use the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library for research bring revenue into the city of Dallas in the form of parking fees, meals at restaurants, shopping at near by stores, and sometimes hotel stays. They also donate funds for acquisitions, participate in fundraising events and donate volunteer hours to the library. These activities would be hampered by reduction in access to the research materials there. Now is the time to make your needs known to the city council.

For information on contacting the mayor and city council, click on the url below: You will be taken to a City of Dallas site where you can e-mail the Mayor and All Council Members, or select any individual council member.  City Council District 14 covers the physical location of the downtown library.

http://cts.vresp.com/c/?DallasGenealogicalSo/7257b72e3d/TEST/ede9fcfa13 .

Please make the effort to contact the Dallas City Council before the proposed changes to the downtown central library are implemented.

Thank you,
Dallas Genealogical Society Board

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2 Responses to Speak Out Now About Proposed Library Budget Cuts!

  1. Carolyn Davis says:

    I agree with the comments expressed in the previous post. I have written twice this summer to my City Council representative reiterating the importance of the Dallas Public Library to the social fabric of this city.

    I expressed my concerns about the Library staff layoffs-not just the effect that this will have on the excellent service level that the Library currently provides, but that these trained and experienced employees will not be available for re-hire when this budget crisis has passed. They will find other positions and that will be our loss.

    I also brought up the dreaded phrase “raise taxes”. It seems to me that in addition to the efforts to trim the expenses side of the ledger, the City Council also has to address the revenue side. If we want to try to maintain the quality of life that we enjoy here in Dallas, and the Public Library definitely contributes to that quality, we have to consider the tax question.

  2. Marie Navarro says:

    I send the following email to the Mayor and all the Dallas City Council members. My prayers are with our wonderful genealogy staff.

    To the Mayor and all Dallas City Council members:

    I have just learned that you are considering serious cuts to the Central (downtown) Branch of the Dallas Public Library. Although I do not live in Dallas, I do work in Dallas and frequent this library often. I hope you will reconsider these cuts to this important service that is utilized by many people. With the economy being so weak, the citizens of our great State need to have access to low cost entertainment and resources. I will be retiring next year and had planned to spend a great deal of time in the genealogy section on the 8th floor. I was also planning to volunteer to work on the genealogy information desk. During the Great Depression, many of our ancestors turned to free services, such the libraries of our country. They were able to further educate themselves as a result. For thousands of years our libraries have been the cornerstone of self education, self help, and increase in knowledge. Please don’t cut off funds to this vital resource, especially at time when it is needed more than ever!

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