Monday, January 15, 2007

Libraries a vital part of culture and education

First published in the Times Union: Monday, January 15, 2007

I am writing in response to Albert Paolucci's letter (Dec. 30) concerning the expansion of the Albany Public Library system, which he believes to be unnecessary. To clarify, only one additional branch is being added to the system, the new building proposed for Arbor Hill.

Although the Delaware Avenue and New Scotland Avenue branches will be at new locations, they replace branches that already exist in those neighborhoods. The renovation of the Howe Branch in the South End is much needed and long overdue. Plans for the Pine Hills branch will expand space and services at the current location.

As a resident of Arbor Hill, which has not had its own branch for 40 years, I am very aware of the need for a neighborhood library in this community. I also spoke out during the library's planning process in favor of a separate geographically accessible branch in West Hill.

To get a sense of the wide variety of services and programs the Albany Public Library makes available to all segments of the community, one need only read an issue of the library's free monthly newsletter, BiblioTech. Its pages convey how very different the library's mission is from big-box bookstores, from school libraries and from the specialized research focus of the State Library.

As a result of economic disparities, not every community in Albany has equal access to private transportation and to home computers. In fact, many people rely solely upon the library for computer access.

Just as our neighborhoods benefit from physical improvements such as street repairs and rehabilitated vacant properties, they are also greatly enhanced by the availability of high-quality cultural and educational resources.


Common Council Member

Fourth Ward


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