Stephanie Bailey-White

Idaho State Librarian Stephanie Bailey-White, at the state Capitol on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020.

Idaho libraries now rank No. 1 in the nation for per-capita attendance at children’s programs, State Librarian Stephanie Bailey-White told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee today. That ranking, which is compiled by the Institute of Museum & Library Services and is based on 2018 figures, also showed that Idaho ranked second in the nation for per-capita circulation of children’s library materials. “I think that’s heartening news for all of us,” Bailey-White told lawmakers. “We’re making a big difference in the life of Idahoans, those who are young and not as young.”

Bailey-White is Idaho’s 20th state librarian. She started in the post in August, after the June retirement of former State Librarian Ann Joslin, who retired after 40 years of service. Bailey-White has worked for the state Commission for Libraries for 28 years.

Gov. Brad Little’s budget recommendation for the Commission for Libraries for next year is flat, showing a 0.1% drop in state general funds and a 0.1% increase in total funds. Idaho has 147 public libraries, plus numerous school and academic libraries. The commission serves all of them, from statewide programs, grants, services and training to inter-library loans that allow patrons in one town to request a book that’s located in a library elsewhere.

After her budget hearing at JFAC, Bailey-White said she attributes the high rankings to a focus in recent years on outreach for children’s programs at Idaho libraries, including the “Read to Me” early literacy program.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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