Winter 2002

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.

Legislative Update

By Mable Robertson, NYSALB Trustee, Legislative Chair

Winter 2002 issue of Trustee

As long as I can remember, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's has been one of the happiest and brightest times of the year.  Despite the growing winter chill, the warmth of family and friends make the holiday season special in so many ways.  The season also gives us pause to consider what really matters in our lives-a time to set our priorities and to cherish the ones we love and value.

This year it is especially so.  On September 11th our world changed in many ways.  Clearly, the attacks on the World Trade Center made us painfully aware of the dangers we face in the modern world.  Yet, out of the fear and pain of that tragic day, it also allowed us to reevaluate the importance of community - of standing together united during these difficult days.

All New Yorkers shared in the tragedy of September 11th, especially those residing and working in New York City.  In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, New York City's public libraries played a particularly important role in informing and calming the community.  At the Brooklyn Public Library, the doors were open on September 12th.  At the Central Library and in branches across the borough, parents and caregivers brought children into a warm and welcoming space for storybooks and storytelling.  Many came to the library to check out a book, to rent a video-to find solace in the comfort of routine.  To cope with the resulting emotional distress,

Brooklyn Public Library bought numerous titles designed to cope with grief, anxiety and the new reality of a world changed forever.  Brooklyn Public Library was not alone; indeed New York City's other systems and libraries across New York State provided the same essential services in the days and weeks following the tragedy.  As a library trustee, I am grateful that public libraries demonstrate daily their vital role in our communities.

Since September we have had to reevaluate how to deal with our changed reality.  Libraries across the state have been surveying their security and safety procedures.  As trustees, we have an obligation to our patrons and staff to ensure that buildings and grounds are fully protected.  We also have to maintain the delicate balance between guaranteeing physical protection and ensuring that privacy and intellectual inquiry are also respected.

Also, as trustees we have to adjust to a new economic climate that challenges libraries across the state.  While the nation was entering a recession before September, New York State subsequently faced a vastly compounded situation.  Governor Pataki and State legislative leaders have the unenviable task of wrestling with reduced revenue and high rebuilding costs.

In New York City the problems are aggravated even further, with multi-billion dollar budget gaps projected in the coming years.  Libraries are partners in meeting these difficult challenges. While the days ahead will be difficult, I believe that working together as a united library community we will emerge stronger and better than before.

In these challenging times, I wish the entire NYSALB community a warm, uplifting and blessed holiday season.  May the coming year bring peace and calm to our world.

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