Fall 2006

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From the Chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Libraries and Education Technology

Patricia Eddington - Special to the NYSALB TRUSTEE

Fall 2006 issue of Trustee

My first session as Chair was both exciting and productive. While this was indeed a good year for libraries, there is still much more work to be done. For too long our libraries have been short-changed and I look forward to continuing my efforts toward building strong libraries and library systems throughout New York.

Over the years, libraries and library systems throughout New York have suffered from a severe lack in funding. As a past board member for the Patchouge-Medford Library in Suffolk County for eight years, I know first-hand the financial struggles that libraries face on a yearly basis. As a member on the Joint Conference Committee for Education during this year’s budget negotiations I made sure the voices of libraries across the state were heard and that their needs were addressed. It is my belief that the final budget reflects a new commitment to libraries and library systems, and I look forward to building on this commitment in the years to come. By working together, we have provided libraries and library systems with nearly $20 million more in much needed state aid and capital construction monies.

As you know, for the past five years the Governor has failed to utilize the most recent census figures to calculate appropriate library funding. To correct this, the Legislature fought for a budget that will fund New York’s libraries and library systems using the 2000 census. In addition, a “save harmless provision” will protect libraries from the economic impact of area population loss, ensuring that they will receive the same funding as they did in the previous fiscal year. This increase in aid will hopefully help to turn the tide against the millions of dollars that libraries and library systems have lost under the current administration.

As you also know, approximately half of New York’s public library buildings are 50 or more years old. Due to the advanced age of these buildings, over one third of our State’s library buildings are not yet in full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Furthermore, many of these buildings cannot be properly wired to fully utilize computer technology. This is especially troubling considering public libraries are the primary access point for those who do not have an internet connection at home or at work. It is my hope that the capital funding will not only help to bring our libraries into the 21st century, but that it will help to ensure that libraries are safe and welcoming places where the public can go and learn.

Although this increase in aid comes at a critical time, there is still much more work to be done. Libraries are an integral part of our communities, which provide benefits to everyone in the community. I look forward to continuing my work in the Assembly to help make New York’s libraries and library systems stronger as well as working with the New York State Association of Library Boards and the new administration to ensure our libraries continue to get the support they deserve.

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