Spring 2002

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Legislative Update

By Mable Robertson, NYSALB Trustee, Legislative Chair

Spring 2002 issue of Trustee

It's budget time Again! Time for all Trustees to join NYSALB, NYLA and ALA in the struggle to again lobby our Governor and legislators to devise an equitable formula for funding our libraries and institutions.

At this writing, the Governor and the Division of the Budget (DOB) have made a decision to fund Libraries at last year's level of $89 million dollars. This does not take into consideration the numerous population changes, which were reported in the 2000 census. These increases in population growth must not and cannot be ignored; it is estimated that an additional $2.5 million dollars should be added to the funding allocation for libraries based on the additional population growth. (The newest term for this is "formula equity").

More than ever, trustees who represent our diverse communities, our children and senior citizens are needed and MUST join with New York Library Association (NYLA) and American Library Association (ALA) on Lobby Day in Albany and Washington,D.C.

Mark your calendars:

  • ALA Library Legislative Day in Washington, D.C., Tuesday May 7, 2002
  • Also Save The Dates of Friday, May 3rd and Saturday, May 4th, 2002 for the NYSALB Trustee Institute at the Holiday Inn Turf in Albany, New York.

Some Trustees will be pleased and happy to know that the $95 million request to fund New Century Libraries is still on the table. Also interesting, is the fact that both the House and Senate negotiators have agreed on funding Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) programs at $168 million dollars.

However, an issue of great concern to many Trustees throughout the state of New York is the constant loss and threat of loss of our librarians due to low pay and inadequate salaries. We are also mindful of the fact that large numbers of our librarians are retiring and considering retirement. However, we are losing our most experienced and talented librarians to the corporate world and to the Public School System as a result of poor salaries.

In the February 2002 edition of Library Journal a news article presents plans by First Lady Laura Bush, a former librarian, to begin to remedy this urgent problem.  It states that, "the First Lady has proposed a $10 million initiative to recruit librarians in 2003, with funding to be managed by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  It further states that the money will be applied to an assortment of recruitment methods including scholarships and fellowships for MLS students, support for training programs, leadership development, and distance learning in rural areas."

Trustees MUST take a stand and join in these efforts to retain and recruit more librarians.

And finally, it is important to update trustees on the fact that Governor Pataki has a proposal that would transfer the State Library from the State Education Department which is under the Regents to a new agency - The New York State Institute of Cultural Education.  This agency would absorb the State Library, State Archives and State Museum.  The Governor and the Legislative leaders would appoint the Board of Directors.

The questions must be raised with the Governor and the legislators as to what affect this charge will have on our communities, established programs, and various libraries.  LOBBY DAYS have been planned and trustees, as always, will dig for answers from those that we have elected to serve!

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