Income Tax Check-off Helps Build Library Book Selections During Lean Budget Times

Augusta - Library patrons from communities both large and small have greater access to reading materials thanks to donations received from Maine residents through the Maine Public Library Fund income tax check-off. The program launched in 2013 as a voluntary donation on schedule C-P on Maine income tax forms and nearly $32,000 was collected through the program in 2014.

“For the last two years, we polled Maine librarians for their suggestions on how to best make use of this extra funding,” said Maine State Librarian Jamie Ritter. “Given the tight book budgets in many libraries these days, the overwhelming response was to use the resources to increase access to reading materials.”

Earlier this month, funds from the 2014 tax check-off were used to purchase nearly 1,000 new titles for the Maine InfoNet Download Library – a collection available to patrons of 215 Maine libraries that allows users to checkout e-books and audiobooks using their personal computer, tablet device or smartphone that is connected to the internet. Demand for the service has been heavy over the last year with nearly 29,000 items checked out in December alone.

“The download library is convenient and easy to use. I love being able to check out audiobooks and e-books from home at any time of the day.” said Belinda Arey, a patron at the Old Town Public Library.

Many Maine libraries have also benefited from the recent expansion of van delivery service, which allows patrons of any participating library to access titles from the collections of other libraries participating in the interlibrary loan system.

“More than 70 percent of libraries have collections smaller than 25,000 books, but van delivery makes it possible for patrons of even the smallest institutions to have quick, free access to the enormous collection of reading materials held by other participating libraries,” said Audrey Snowden, librarian at the Orrington Public Library. “It allows us to continue providing good service to patrons during a time when we might not have a lot of resources to buy new books for our own collection.”

Any Maine income tax filer can donate to the Maine Public Library Fund tax check-off by specifying a contribution amount on Maine income tax form schedule C-P. For more information about the program, visit www.maine.gov/msl/tax