The Assembly’s budget resolution includes a $27.7
million increase in funding to help libraries across
New York State improve facilities and update technology.
Libraries play a crucial role in the educational, economic
and social development of our communities, and as such, they
must be prepared for the advances of the 21st Century.
Changes in the way we process and gather information present
libraries with a unique opportunity to offer innovative
programs and services –– and the challenge of keeping pace
with the rapid growth of the Internet and computer technology.
The Assembly Majority recognizes the need to increase funding
for New York’s vast network of public libraries as they work
to ensure that all New York residents have access to up-to-date
Ensuring that all New Yorkers
have access to library resources
Libraries offer an endless array of programs and services to
New York residents. Last year –– in recognition of the vital
role libraries fill in making essential services available
to the public –– the Assembly championed the first increase
in public library funding in three years when it added $5
million to the state budget.
This year, our budget goes a step further, with financial
assistance that will help libraries enhance their
technological capabilities, update their facilities, and
ensure increased access for all library users, including
those in high need areas.
Libraries play a major role in narrowing the "digital divide"
for New Yorkers without a home computer by providing public access to
the Internet and instruction on how to use it. To assist them
in making online information available to the public, the
Assembly’s budget proposal includes $10 million in additional
funds for public library aid and technology investments.
A portion of this funding will be used to expand NOVEL, the
New York Online Virtual Electronic Library. For those who
have access to a computer at school, home, or work and wish
to take advantage of the vast resources available through
New York’s public libraries, this innovative program enables
all of the state’s libraries to provide free access to
costly, subscription-only electronic databases.
As our libraries work to expand their technological
capacities, many are confronting the need to expand their
physical space as well. That’s why the Assembly plan
provides $10 million in additional funding for library
The Assembly budget also includes:
- $6 million for school library materials –– making up-to-
date information available to our schoolchildren; and
- $700,000 to improve library services for individuals
with visual and physical disabilities –– providing them
with increased access to the information they need to
compete effectively in academic and business pursuits
and enhance their quality of life.
By helping our libraries provide free services to our
communities, we are making an investment in the future and
sustaining the promise of educational opportunity for all
Helping our children develop learning skills
Studies have shown that the first three years of a child’s
life is a critical time as 75% to 80% of the brain develops.
During this early "window of opportunity," a
child’s parents or caregivers have the chance to provide an
infant with a range of experiences that will actually result
in essential brain cell connections.
The power of early adult-child interaction is crucially
important to this developmental process. According to
education experts, interacting with young children both
physically and intellectually –– holding, playing with and
reading to them on a regular basis –– provides them with the
experiences and the stimulation they need to develop learning
and social skills that will serve them throughout their lives.
Recognizing this, many libraries have begun to create
programs, on site and at other locations, which give parents
the opportunity to spend quality time with their young
children while exploring the many resources of our public
libraries. These programs, open to the public and free of
charge, help parents to expand new learning environments for
their children and create a bond of shared interests and
activities which will enrich the lives of both parent and
To help libraries develop activities and outreach for new
parents and their infants, the Assembly budget plan proposes
adding $1 million to the budget to fund Baby Steps –– an
innovative new library program designed to encourage
libraries to provide programs for parents to interact and
read with their newborns and toddlers.
Continuing the Assembly’s commitment to New York’s public libraries
New York’s libraries provide an extraordinary range of
services –– from providing toddlers with their first book to
helping senior citizens explore the world via the Internet.
The appropriations proposed by the Assembly Majority this
year –– combined with the $5 million we secured in last
year’s budget –– will help to ensure that our libraries
continue their long tradition of providing essential services
for New Yorkers of all ages.