February 12, 2003
The Honorable John Ellis (Jeb) Bush
Governor of Florida
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Dear Governor Bush:
As President of the American Association of Law Libraries, I write today to urge you to reconsider the proposal announced in your FY 2003-04 Recommended Budget to eliminate the Division of Library and Information Services and create instead a new Department of State and Community Partnerships. The Division currently includes the State Library of Florida, the State Archives, the Legislative Library Services, and the Records Management and State Records Centers. These entities are closely connected, with similar missions and services, and work together to provide the residents of Florida with access to information about the state's history, culture and government in a variety of formats, including both tangible and electronic.
The State Library plays a valuable and unique role in the delivery of information through its rich collections, its important services and its statewide coordination efforts. While we are aware of the reality of budget deficits in Florida, and indeed in most states across our Nation, we are very concerned that the proposed elimination of the Florida State Library will negatively impact the library collections and services available to Floridians of all ages and in all walks of life.
The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) is a nonprofit educational organization with over 5000 members nationwide. AALL's mission is to promote and enhance the value of law libraries, to foster law librarianship and to provide leadership and advocacy in the field of legal information and information policy. Our members work in nearly 1900 libraries nationwide serving government officials, the bench, the bar, legal scholars and the public. Members of the South Florida Association of Law Libraries (SFALL), a chapter of AALL, serve the legal and government information needs of these constituencies in over sixty law libraries located throughout the state.
The historic collections of the State Library date back to the beginning of Statehood in 1845, and its general collections contain nearly 900,000 items, including materials in the Legislative Library Services. The Florida Collection contains over 236,000 items including printed materials, state government documents, maps, and microfilm as well as a unique collection of pamphlets, manuscripts and other materials documenting the state's history. These rich resources and important services are heavily used by the residents of Florida for a multitude of information needs.
It is vitally important that the State Library's collections remain intact, and that librarians continue to provide for the orderly acquisition, classification, organization, retrieval and preservation of its important resources. Additionally, one of the important roles of the State Library is to manage library, archival and records management services all across the state. The Florida Interlibrary Loan Network (FLIN) is one such service, providing the efficient and timely sharing of materials among all of the state's libraries. The effective continuation of this valuable service is very much at risk if the State Library is closed. Other services that would be in jeopardy include statewide long range planning, the coordination of library programs and services in all communities across the state, the administration of the grants program, and the management of the Florida state depository program.
Governor Bush, the Florida State Library plays a unique role in providing essential services and access to current and historic collections that have well served the citizens of your state for over a hundred and fifty years. It is the crucial focal point for the coordination of all library services within the state and its elimination would severely impact these services. We urge you to restore the necessary funding for the State Library so that the lifelong learning opportunities of all your constituents will continue to be met in an effective and efficient manner.
Carol Avery Nicholson
American Association of Law Libraries
Johnnie Byrd, Speaker, Florida House of Representatives
James E. King, President, Florida Senate
Lisa Smith-Butler, President, South Florida Association of Law Libraries
Terry Long, President, Southeastern Chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries