Gov. Bush proposes closing state library to save money


Published: Saturday, January 25, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 24, 2003 at 10:39 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Jeb Bush's proposed state budget includes closing the state library and giving its collection of nearly 1 million books and documents to a university to save the $5 million it costs to run it each year.
But so far, no university has agreed to take the collection. The state has been trying to get Florida State University to agree to, but that would simply shift the maintenance cost to the school, which also is facing budget cuts.
"The way it looks is that someone wants us to assume a responsibility but with no money," Florida State President T.K. Wetherell told The Tallahassee Democrat.
Bush unveiled his proposal for balancing the state's $53.9 billion budget Tuesday. In order to boost spending in some areas, the budget proposes cuts elsewhere.
Under the proposal, the state library would be closed, eliminating 55 state jobs and cutting $5.4 million. It's part of a proposed merger of the Department of State and Department of Management Services called for in the budget, also a cost-saving measure.
The state would maintain the archives.
"We recognize that the library and that collection are very, very important to our state, and we are going to have to find creative ways to make sure that it remains available," said Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood, who will become secretary of state Feb. 26 and head the department in charge of the library for now.
Wetherell said originally the proposal was for Florida State to take over the whole R.A. Gray Building, which houses most of the state government's history, including the library, the state archives and the Museum of Florida History. But Wetherell said that proposal had "gone astray."
He said simply accepting the library's collection raised storage questions, as well as monetary ones, and questions about how to provide government and public access to the collection if it is moved to the university.
Bush's budget also proposes cutting $17.6 million from the university's budget.
The Legislature ultimately writes the budget, and can take Bush's proposal or ignore it. Lawmakers go into session March 4.

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