Summer 2003

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 Sub-Committee Chair Senator Hugh T. Farley

Summer 2003 issue of Trustee

Adopting the first objective of the medical community, New York's 2003-04 State Budget attempts to "do no harm" to libraries and library systems.   As passed by the Legislature, the Budget restores library funding to last year's level, which represents full funding of the statutory aid formula.  

This is good!

It heads in the right direction, restoring aid instead of cutting.  The original Executive Budget proposed a fifteen percent ($13.3 million) cut in library aid.   And New York was not alone.   California's Governor proposed to cut his state's major library aid program by almost ninety-seven percent (to $1 million from $31.5 million), and to impose a $5 fee on interlibrary loans.  

Certainly it is symbolic.   Faced with massive funding cuts, the Legislature's fiscal committees placed library aid restoration at the top of their priorities for education.   Trustees should have no qualms about asking local governments -- which provide ninety percent of funding for public libraries -- to keep libraries high on their budget priorities.  

And, in spite of  a year marked by multi-billion-dollar shortfalls, it is the second largest Legislative addition to a Governor's library aid proposal in New York's history.  

But, while the restoration does no harm, neither does it improve matters.  We are still working from an aid formula established over a decade ago.  And although many libraries have coped by using growth in alternate sources of funding, those library systems which rely primarily on State aid are being slowly strangled.  

I still believe that solutions such as automatic annual cost-of-living increases in State library aid (S.3995/A.8355) or a Constitutional amendment creating a right to library services (S.738/A.4838) would serve us well in times of fiscal restraint as well as in times of plenty.  

In my last column I welcomed Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, the incoming Chair of the Assembly Committee on Libraries and Education Technology, as a new and very active supporter of libraries.   It has been a pleasure working with Assemblywoman Galef during the Legislative Session.  

This time, I bid farewell to two of our State's most passionate and effective advocates for libraries.   Susan Lehman Keitel, Director of the New York Library Association (NYLA), is retiring after many years of public service, including a stint on the Senate staff.   And, NYSALB Trustee and TRUSTEE newsletter editor Ed Field has fallen victim to term limitations.  

Ed consistently challenged me, and other TRUSTEE contributors, to provoke your thoughts as we work together in support of libraries.   I'm sure that Susan and Ed will continue as library advocates, and I look forward to working with Sam Patton, the TRUSTEE's incoming editor, and with NYLA's staff.

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