Trustee

October 1999

The Trustee communicates issues affecting libraries and library services. Once a library and systems join LTA, all their trustees automatically receive this quarterly publication published by LTA. To learn more about membership in LTA, Click Here.

From The Desk Of The Committee Chair

Assemblywoman Naomi C. Matusow

October 1999 issue of Trustee

There was some good news for libraries in the 1999-2000 New York State budget. Several public libraries received individual funding, and the Senate joined the Assembly in restoring the increase in school library monies from $4 to $6 per student. Funding for General Library Aid (also known as Chapter 917) was maintained at last year's amount of $88.5 million. Unfortunately, this static funding level may have the impact of a reduction given the reality of inflation.

I was also disheartened that neither the state Senate nor the Governor joined the Assembly in providing funding for several important initiatives. The Assembly plan sought to provide $3 million in funding for Electronic Doorways to bring libraries across the state into optimum technological effectiveness. In addition, the plan would have secured capital construction funding to improve or expand facilities, as well as allowing for the purchase of databases for the New York State Library. These databases would be made available for on-line access from all our libraries, at a taxpayer saving of $25 for every $1 in state funding.

We, the advocates of libraries in New York, must be vigilant in informing our elected representatives of the importance of the financial support of our libraries. We represent 11.2 million public library card holders who borrow more than 123 million books, periodicals and audiovisual materials each year. Our constituency consists of a wide range of people including students, business people, children, job seekers, homemakers, hobbyists, entrepreneurs, scholars, legislators, and government employees and officials. Whether allowing individuals to acquire computer skills, learn English as a second language, or perform research for anything from a term paper to a new invention, library activities directly enhance our economy. It is the all-important return on the investment of state and local tax dollars. While library services are free to the users, these services are paid for by tax dollars so that everyone has access to this incredible resource.

The question then is this: why is it so difficult to attract significant state tax dollars to carry out a first class library program across our state ? My guess is that we have not done enough to convince our elected representatives of the importance of library services to the electorate. We need to mobilize our millions of public library card holders - approximately 65% of the population of our state - to lobby every officeholder on the importance of library services. Most important, we must encourage these cardholders to evaluate every elected official on his or her commitment to voting for increased funding for public libraries. We can then make a truly educated and pro-library decision as to whom we support, based upon our elected officials' expressed commitment to public libraries.

Let us start the campaign now, before the Governor proposes his next budget. Let us show him just how important it is to support libraries. I propose that we create a slogan to mobilize our forces: "The Library Lovers Campaign" "I'm a library lover and I vote!" "Invest in libraries - libraries invest in people" "Libraries can't live on love!" "Library Lovers Unite!"

These are but a few very modest suggestions. I welcome your ideas. But hurry. We must act right away. To the battlements!


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