Monday, March 02, 2015

Volunteer Income Tax Program (VITA)

From HERE:

VITA is a free, IRS-sponsored program to help low and middle-income workers have their federal and State personal income taxes prepared and filed electronically at no cost. VITA also ensures that workers receive all the tax credits to which they are entitled.

Many workers eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Child Tax Credit (CTC) don’t feel comfortable filling out tax forms themselves. However, commercial tax preparers charge significant fees to prepare a return and offer services that can otherwise be provided at no cost at a VITA site. People eligible for EITC and CTC have a no-cost option — they can have their returns prepared and filed at a VITA site.

Every county in the New York State, and most counties in the United States, have at least one VITA site. Visit the IRS VITA site locator. Opening and closing dates vary by site as well as hours and days of operation. In addition, many sites do require an appointment.

After April 15, 2015, many of the VITA site locations close and will no longer be listed on the IRS VITA site locator. Please call the sites directly to confirm that they will remain open after April 15th.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

November vote set for Albany High renovation, reconstruction

From the Albany (NY) School District:

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 27, 2015) -- The future of Albany High School is in voters’ hands.

After more than a decade of discussion about how new facilities would best serve students for generations to come, including two years of planning for the current proposal, the City School District of Albany Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday night to let voters decide in November.

The vote will be Nov. 3, in conjunction with the general election. Read the Feb. 27 Times Union for additional coverage. You also can click on the highlighted text to see a Feb. 26 presentation to the school board about the project.

The $199.5 million renovation and reconstruction project would add a second academic wing, a new auditorium and fine-arts center, new outdoor athletic facilities, and a welcome and wellness center accessible to the community. It also would include space for all of Albany High’s career and technical education programs, currently located three blocks away at the Abrookin Career and Technical Center.

Major renovations would include the current academic building and gym, which would be expanded and also would include an indoor running track. The school’s open courtyard would be enclosed to create a common area and glass-paneled atrium.
Plan minimizes tax impact 
Construction would be extended over seven years to maximize state aid and reduce the cost to taxpayers. The district estimates that residents with the basic STAR exemption would pay an extra $40-$80 for homes assessed in the $150,000-$250,000 range. Seniors with the enhanced STAR exemption would see an increase of $29-$66 for homes assessed in the same range.

The district will work hard throughout the spring, summer and fall to educate residents about the project and answer questions from the community.

The new Albany High would include five smaller learning communities specifically designed to meet future program goals. Albany High currently has four smaller learning communities that were retrofitted into the 41-year-old facility three years ago. When it is completed, the project would add 40 percent more space to the current high school, allowing the school to manage increases in student enrollment that are projected over the next decade.

New facilities alone won’t solve the academic challenges many Albany High students encounter, but the project will help staff design better programs to meet the needs of all students, Principal Cecily Wilson-Turner told the board.

Friday, February 27, 2015

ISIS burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries

From the Independent:

Isis militants have reportedly ransacked Mosul library, burning over a hundred thousand rare manuscripts and documents spanning centuries of human learning.

Initial reports said approximately 8,000 books were destroyed by the extremist group.

However, AL RAI’s chief international correspondent Elijah J. Magnier told The Independent that a Mosul library official believes as many as 112, 709 manuscripts and books, some of which were registered on a UNESCO rarities list, are among those lost...

Among the documents believed lost are a collection of Iraqi newspapers from the beginning of the 20th century, maps, books and collections from the Ottoman period.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Nonprofits: Form 990 Online and e-Postcard filing systems hacked

Here's an e-mail I received today:

The Urban Institute’s National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) recently discovered that an unauthorized party or parties have gained access to the Form 990 Online and e-Postcard filing systems for nonprofit organizations. This unauthorized access affected nonprofits that used IRS Forms 990, 990-EZ, and 990-N (e-Postcard). It also affected users of Form 8868 extensions and filings for charitable organizations in Hawaii, Michigan, and New York.

Water main break on Elk Street blocks access to APL parking lot

To those using the 161 Washington Avenue branch, especially those attending Friends of Albany Public library talk today:

You may have some trouble getting into the parking lot at Washington Ave. today.

There's a water main break on Elk Street, right across from the parking lot. The city has closed off Elk Street between Dove and Lark. As of now, you can't travel down the last part of Elk to get into the APL lot.

The library is open and you can walk into the building using the back entrance. But, you probably won't be able to get into the parking lot.

The library is sorry for the inconvenience and late notice; they just learned about this themselves.

Spread the word!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Little Free Libraries on the wrong side of the law

Crime, homelessness and crumbling infrastructure are still a problem in almost every part of America, but two cities have recently cracked down on one of the country's biggest problems: small community libraries where residents can share books.

Officials in Los Angeles and Shreveport, La., have told the owners of homemade lending libraries that they're in violation of city codes, and asked them to remove or relocate their small book collections.

More from the Los Angeles Times.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

10 of the Coolest Librarians Alive

Face it: most librarians are probably cooler than you. After all, their job is to wrangle books, attract readers, and then get the two together — one of our own favorite activities. Though for many years, the librarian stereotype was a severe old lady who couldn't stand excessive noise, the mold has changed (to the extent that even the New York Times has noticed).

Now, many librarians are punk-rock agents of social change, complete with tattoos, tech savvy, and new ideas to get books to the people. Meet just a few of the very coolest librarians alive — and since we know there are hundreds out there, add your favorite book lender (or yourself) in the comments.

"I would like to see a librarian on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine," Porcaro says. "I want to see a librarian on Jersey Shore, in Kanye West’s entourage, and on the coaching staff of the New York Jets. I want to see the first librarian elected President of the United States. Don’t forget, Casanova was a librarian."

More at Flavorwire.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Winning All Over the Map | Budgets & Funding

From the Library Journal:

On the face of it, 2014 looks like it was a pretty good year for libraries at the ballot box: some 148 libraries reporting for this tally won and 42 lost. About 78% of libraries passed funding, bonds, or authority measures in 2014. Over 1.7 million Americans voted yes for their libraries. Only 22% lost. While unfortunate, it doesn’t seem tragic or perilous. But at EveryLibrary, we’re worried about the 1.1 million Americans who voted no this year.

Nonetheless, we’d like to figure out why winners win and losers lose, in order to help ensure that there are more of the former and fewer of the latter in the future. At EveryLibrary, we hear stories from both winning and losing campaigns that try to make sense of an election, that try to put a frame around voter behavior. The winning campaigns must have played all their cards right; the losing campaigns must have missed something. What elusive but critical error did the losers make?