Fall 2008

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President's Memo

By Richard Strauss, NYSALB Board President

Fall 2008 issue of Trustee

$$$$$$$, it’s all about the $$$$$$$. Listening to Governor Paterson in August you know times are going to be tough this year and next.  Let’s give a hand to NYLA and their efforts to help stem the bleeding during the recent round of budget cuts. The cuts were bad, but not as bad as first expected.

In my opinion, and you can quote me: “When times are good, libraries get DAMN little!!!  When times are tough, libraries get even LESS!!!”

Look at the ‘90s - the economy was booming.  Library funding was stagnant.  What a failure we library folks were.  Only in the last couple of years have we made a little progress.  That perhaps gets us to where we should have been maybe 10 years ago.  Let’s face it, we have not done our homework.  HOMEWORK, good grief, we haven’t even shown up in class.

Let’s face it - we as trustees have let others carry our water.  The results are apparent.  Not only do they wet themselves, they wet us besides.  We stay at home.  Sit on our hands or other body parts.  We hope things will get better.  What is it they say about doing the same thing hoping the results will be different?

If you want things to get better, you better get into the game.

Let me put together a simple game plan.  Of course it requires that we all become active in the process.

Begin a letter writing campaign to your local State Assemblyperson and State Senator.  Remind them that libraries are an important cog in the economic system.  Libraries are most used when times are tough.  Remind them that you vote.
Put a simple letter addressed to your State representatives on the circulation desk at your library for each patron to sign.  Single letters work much better than a petition.  Remember a petition with 1000 signatures weighs a few ounces;  1000 letters with 1000 signatures weigh over 10 pounds.

Letters to the Governor, Senate Majority leader and Assembly speaker are important also.

Collect the letters.

After the fall election, make an appointment; go visit your representatives in the local office.  Take your entire board if you are able.  Bring your letters.  Remind them that they represent you.  Although member items mean a little in your locality, state funding is good for everyone.  Talk about your library.  Give your five-minute speech.  You know - the one you prepare when you want to impress people about your library’s goals, programs, and progress.

Don’t be embarrassed.  This is the time to showcase your library, your library system, and libraries in general.  You know if you aren’t there talking about libraries someone else will be there talking about xxxxxxx or yyyyyyyy or zzzzzzzzz.  What’s more important, the health of libraries or x, y, or z?

Trustees waste valuable political capital.  How?  They stay home.  They do little. They say nothing.  Trustees serve for no pay, are often politically connected, and are the heart of the communities they serve.
“Now is the time the walrus said…”

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