Winter 2008

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.

President's Memo

By Richard Strauss, NYSALB Board President

Winter 2008 issue of Trustee

Firstly, let me share some comments I had the opportunity to make at the Legislators Look Ahead  to 2008 at the NYLA Conference in October:
I have only two points to make.

First, Let me ask some questions.

Who, by law, is responsible for managing $1.3 billion dollars of public and private annual income, including $1 billion in local, state, and federal public funding?

Who, by law, is responsible for the oversight of several billion dollars in assets including buildings, equipment and $1.3 billion in collections?

Who, as a group, are the least prepared and equipped to meet those fiscal and legal responsibilities?
Library trustees!!!

Some 7,000 library and library system trustees in New York State are responsible for governing 755 local public libraries and 23 library systems with 1,100 facilities.

There are no ongoing, comprehensive State-approved education or training programs for library trustees in New York State.  There is a pressing need to train trustees about their fiscal oversight and stewardship responsibilities.  There is a need to provide them with the current information and tools necessary to successfully carry out this critical policy and fiscal oversight role.

NYSALB proposes an initiative to fill this need.  Our proposal is modeled after legislation to provide mandatory training for school boards.

Trained library boards can save communities money by making informed decisions regarding personnel issues, legal matters, negotiations and contractual obligations.

The time is now to press forward with this legislation.

Secondly, let me paraphrase the late Martin Luther King Jr., I have a dream…

My dream is to provide libraries with consistent, stable, and adequate funding.

My dream is to meet with my legislators each year, not to beg for subsistence, but to plan strategic initiatives.  Not to grovel for 1993 funding, but to make plans to bring libraries into the 21st century.  Not to plead to hold harmless libraries affected by the latest census, but to plan a vision where everyone is able to read and have full access to our libraries.
NYSALB has begun the process to make Trustee Training mandatory.  On October 22 four of the NYSALB Board met with Dave Smingler from State Senator Hugh Farley’s office. Senator Farley is the Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Libraries.  Later that day three of us met with Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, Chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Libraries and Education Technology.  Our goal was the same with both visits.  We were pushing for legislation to require Mandatory Trustee Training for library trustees.  With the mandatory training we are asking for $500,000 to support the preparation of the curriculum and delivery of the training.  This coincides with the Board of Regents and the State Library’s 2008 Legislative recommendations.

On November 16 we also met with members of Governor Spitzer’s staff presenting the same message.
Why is this important?  Depending on where you are located in New York State, trustee training may be excellent, well funded, and presented often.  Or on the other hand, it may be presented occasionally, with little forethought.  NYSALB feels it is important to provide consistent training on trustees’ fiscal and governance responsibilities regardless of where you may live.

During this upcoming legislative cycle be sure to ask your state representatives to support mandatory trustee training.
“The time has come,” the Walrus said…Let’s hope we don’t have to wait until pigs have wings.

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