State library faces major cuts under bill
INDIANAPOLIS — An institution that documents Indiana history could face elimination under Gov. Mike Pence’s budget plan, just months before the state’s bicentennial.
Pence’s spending plan would cut the Indiana State Library’s funding by 24 percent, about $2 million, and eliminate the genealogy department that houses more than 100,000 items documenting Hoosier history.
The library’s online tool known as INSPIRE, which gives all Indiana citizens access to licensed databases of historical and scientific journals, also would be eliminated. Universities and county libraries that frequently use INSPIRE would have cover the database subscription cost on their own.
State budget director Brian Bailey said INSPIRE was defunded because it offers services that are already available online through sites such as Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Search, though Krull said access will be limited compared to INSPIRE. Bailey also said the genealogy department’s service is the same as offered on ancestry.com.
Jeff Krull, a member of the governor-appointed Indiana Library and Historical Board, said the library’s funding has been whittled down each year for the past decade, “but this was a big whack that came out of left field.”
Meanwhile, about $55 million has been allotted for the state’s bicentennial celebration.
“It just doesn’t make any sense to have a big blowout celebration and then dismantle the institutions that preserve the state’s history,” Krull said.
The state plans to lease out un- derused cell towers to cover the bicentennial cost. Nearly half will fund the construction of a new state archives building. Another $2.5 million will create an education center at the library.
Community officials have previously stressed the importance of a new archives building. Most of Indiana’s historical documents are being stored in a dilapidated building on the far east side of Indianapolis.
They were moved there in 2001 as a temporary measure while the state library was being remodeled, but ended up remaining at the site with no climate control.
However, the building would not serve as a replacement for the genealogy department, which Krull said has become a primary resource for immigration records, family trees and lineage, census data and other information people can use to track down their history.
A report issued by the Indiana State Librarian Jacob Speer said the budget cuts would lead to a 10 percent reduction in staff. The library would also lose its federal funding, since the state would no longer be meeting the match and maintenance requirements of the grant.