Dunleavy vetoes funding for Alaska’s statewide library catalog

JUNEAU - Gov. Mike Dunleavy has vetoed nearly $636,000 in funding to continue operating Alaska’s statewide library catalog.

Dunleavy’s office said the state libraries had enough resources to operate without extra money, CoastAlaska reported Sunday.

Dunleavy also vetoed $200,000 for video conferencing between about 90 library branches across the state.

The governor's office referred questions to the Department of Education and Early Development.

The catalog allows patrons to borrow books and other materials from libraries across the state, Juneau Library Director Robert Barr said.

"That's the system that allows you to receive library materials in Juneau from Anchorage or in Bethel from Juneau," Barr said. "That's what allows us to connect with each other."

Barr, a past president of the Alaska Library Association, said last year that cuts to the state's university system threatened the unified catalog system. The catalog is coordinated through the University of Alaska Anchorage.


Extra funding was added by lawmakers to the Alaska State Library's operating budget in an attempt to cover the shortfall before Dunleavy's veto.

The statewide catalog will continue to operate, but individual municipal libraries will share the cost and Barr expects some smaller outlets to drop the system.

The video conference service is part of the Online With Libraries program. Librarians have used the system to connect with patrons remotely after libraries were shuttered statewide by a health mandate because of the coronavirus outbreak.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

About $33,000 of the Online with Libraries program funding remains intact for libraries to buy software to continue running the system on their own.

Programs include staff meetings, digital story hour, virtual book club, and fitness classes, according to a statement on the Online with Libraries website.

Those services are not expected to continue when funding for a Fairbanks-based technical coordinator expires in July.

“And without that kind of central coordination piece, libraries won’t be able to provide that service anymore,” Barr said.