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LAO publishes The 2019-20 Budget: California State Library Local Assistance Proposals

The Governor proposes providing one-time General Fund for two local assistance library initiatives: (1) the Zip Books program and (2) Lunch at the Library. Both programs have received one-time state funding in previous years.

We believe the Governor’s two proposals focus on salient issues but need improvement to address their intended goals. The Zip Books program buys books through Amazon, with the objective of better serving library patrons in rural areas. The Governor’s proposal, however, does not identify which rural areas are unable to access requested books. The Governor’s proposal also does not consider alternatives to Zip Books, such as expanding electronic resources or expanding existing library resource-sharing networks. The Governor’s Lunch at the Library proposal aims to leverage more federal summer meals funding for communities with high shares of low-income school-aged children. The Governor’s proposal, however, narrowly focuses on expanding library participation rather than encouraging more participation from all possible sites, including schools and nonprofit centers.

Given these shortcomings, we recommend the Legislature direct the administration to submit improved proposals—either next January for consideration in the 2020-21 budget or prior to release of any 2019-20 funding. In our brief, we detail the information that the administration should include as part of these improved proposals.

This report is available using the following link: https://lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/4012

This article was released by the Legislative Analyst’s Office.