Focus: Budget

South Bend Tribune

Among the budget items being discussed by this year’s General Assembly is one that probably escaped the notice of most people when looking at spending for education, public safety and health care.

It’s the Indiana State Library budget, and Gov. Mike Pence is proposing legislators cut it by 24 percent — about $2 million — and eliminate the genealogy department that houses more than 100,000 items documenting Hoosier history.

Library officials told The Associated Press the department is the “genealogy destination” for many researching heritage and local history, since the Indianapolis Public Library doesn’t keep its own genealogy collection.

The cuts are being proposed at a time when the state is getting ready to celebrate its bicentennial, which would seem to define the very essence of history and the need to preserve it.

According to its website, the library was established in 1825 to provide services to Indiana’s state governmental officials and employees.

Since that time, the responsibilities of the state library have expanded to provide services to all residents of Indiana. The library’s online tool, called INSPIRE, which gives all Indiana citizens access to licensed databases of historical and scientific journals, also would be eliminated.

In the meantime, $55 million has been set aside to pay for the state’s bicentennial celebration, which will be paid for through the lease of underused cell towers.

One member of the governor’s appointed Indiana Library and Historical Board has said the library’s budget has been cut each year for the past decade.

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