The Legislative Committee of the New York Library Association brings together voices from every constituent group within the library community, including LTA, to craft a common vision for a shared Advocacy Agenda for each legislative session. 2019 will present circumstances that have not been seen in nearly a decade; Democratic party control of the Senate, Assembly, and Governor’s Office. Capitalizing on this opportunity, the Legislative Committee has laid out a bold set of budgetary and policy requests.
$200M for Statewide Library Aid
Together with advocates from across the state we will be advocating for “Support New York IDEALS: Increasing Democratic Engagement through Adaptive Library Services”; a plan that calls for $200M for Statewide Library Aid. NYS Library Aid is set in Education Law at $102.6M, and yet that amount has not been provided in over a decade, and this chronic underfunding of the library program has amounted to a compounded shortfall of over $120M.
$75M for Library Capital Infrastructure Improvements
With flat funding for a decade, the last two years of increases to the Library Construction Aid program have been most welcome. (Up $10M in 2017 to $24M, and another $10M in 2018 to a total of $34M)
Yet the NYS Library’s Division of Library Development has documented the existing need for capital improves at over $1.7B. A continued increase in New York’s investment in our libraries physical infrastructure is critically needed.
Libraries Count: Census 2020 – $40M for
LibraryBased Complete Count Initiatives For the first time ever, the national Census will be conducted largely online. Acknowledging that nearly 20% of American households are not online, many will turn to their local library as an access point for participation. Systemic underfunding at the federal level has pushed responsibility for this initiative onto the states, and New York stands to lose both representation in Washington, and funding that is determined by Census data should there be an undercount. Libraries will play a vital role in this process, but need the resources to meet their potential for support.
In addition to these budgetary items, there are three top policy priorities for 2019.
Equal Access to School Libraries and Librarians
This long-standing priority calls for amending Education Law to require access to a certified school librarian for students in grades K-5. Current regulations provide for access beginning in grade 6.
Transparent Contracting with Educational Institutions
Many academic libraries are pressured into accepting non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) as part of their contracts with electronic resource providers. These NDAs stifle competition and transparency and negatively impact the buying power of the institutions.
Universal Access to the Library Construction Aid Program
Currently when accessing the Library Construction Aid Program, the locality is required to fund their project with a minimum 25% match. This threshold is unattainable to many small libraries, effectively barring their participation. A reduced local matching
threshold of 10% is proposed.
Complete details on the 2019 NYLA Advocacy Agenda can be found at nyla.org/advocacy – click on “Learn”.
SAVE THE DATE – Join supporters from across NYS in Albany on Wednesday, February 27 for Library Advocacy Day 2019! Complete details on Library Advocacy Day 2019 can be found at nyla.org/advocacy – click on “Attend”
By Jeremy Johannesen, Executive Director, NYLA