Community Advocates for Libraries in Miami was born from a campaign effort to Save the Miami-Dade Public Libraries from being dismantled in FY2013-2014.
In July 2013, a budget was given preliminary approval by elected officials to keep the millage rate (tax) for the Library Department flat.
While this meant that taxes would not be raised for the Library Department--currently at ~17 cents for every $1,000 of taxable property--it also meant that Library services, hours, and staff would be dramatically slashed to the point of being completely gutted.
Yet, if funding was being kept at the same level, why would such a slash in services occur?
What was not brought to public attention was the fact that despite keeping funding at the 'same' level, the Library Department was merely running on life-support. To keep services afloat, Reserve monies were being utilized to pay for operating costs, rather than being utilized for department improvements and rainy-day funds.
For FY2013-2014, the Reserve had all been nearly tapped out. Keeping the millage rate 'flat' spelled the end for the Library system as we knew it, with a possible closure of half the branches and a layoff of 250+ people, nearly half of its trained employees.
The Save the Miami-Dade Public Libraries effort was started by two Miami-natives and propelled forward with the efforts of community activists and library staff who felt that they could not sit idly by as the Library system hurtled toward its end.
After dozens of rallies, thousands of phone calls, emails, letters, petitions, and even tweets, elected officials heard the voice of their people, and decided to utilize all of the reserves to keep the Miami-Dade Public Library System afloat for one more year.
The effort was a success, and bought a one-year reprieve for the community to ensure that the Library be funded for next fiscal year.
To organize past this effort, these same community activists gathered together to create CALM: an open group for all supporters of our Libraries.