Offering a plethora of services, libraries are essential to the communities they serve. Some of these services include literacy programs for our youth, genealogical information for those tracing their family history, helpful librarians to assist in locating needed information, and educational resources for those trying to better themselves.
The proposed 2008-09 State Budget decreased library aid by $5.9 million for a total of $96.3 million. I understand the need to rein in spending, but libraries are pillars of our communities. I look forward to examining the needs of library districts and fighting for library aid that will assist these institutions make the transformation into the technological era without placing additional burdens on the already overwhelmed taxpayers of this state.
The truth is that New York’s libraries are in urgent need of renovation and upgrading. More than 40 percent of the over 1,000 libraries in the state are more than 60 years old with another 30 percent of libraries being more than 30 years old. Too many of our local libraries are unable to accommodate users with disabilities, have poor Internet access or none at all, and lack sufficient space for public access to computers or to house their book collections. Painted in this light, the need for capital construction monies becomes apparent.
As a friend of our public libraries, I am pleased the state recently announced a special allocation of $14 million in capital construction grants passed as part of the 2007-08 State Budget. Six libraries in my Assembly District received $229,590. The breakdown is as follows:
- Clifton Springs Library in Clifton Springs, Ontario County - $13,927
- Pioneer Library System in Canandaigua, Ontario County - $23,901
- Tully Free Library in Tully, Onondaga County - $6,000
- Fayetteville Free Library in Fayetteville, Onondaga County - $75,934
- Waterloo Library & Historical Society in Waterloo, Seneca County - $59,934
- Ovid Free Library in Ovid, Seneca County - $49,894
We cannot think of these grants as expenditures, rather they are investments in our communities and our future generations. As a parent, I want libraries to be available to my children as they grow older. I know that parents and residents in every community of this district and every corner of the state share this sentiment. This is why I pledge my continuing support of our region’s public libraries.
Should you like to discuss this or any other state-related issue, please contact my district office at (315) 781-2030.