Friday, December 14, 2007

Be an advocate for library funding

The legislative process for the NYS budget for 2008-09 has begun. The Governor is preparing his budget and will release it on January 22, 2008.

Last year, the Governor and Legislature included $8 million additional funding for library systems and $14 million for public library construction. However, that funding was ONE TIME ONLY. If that funding is to become permanent, it needs to be included in the Governor’s budget.

Your help as a library advocate is needed NOW, to let the Governor know the importance of funding for libraries. NYLA has made it easy for you to do this. Please go to the NYLA website - - and click on "Become a Library Advocate" to send a fax to the Governor.

Last week, more than 300 of library advocates did this. Please join them!

I am writing to urge you to maintain current levels of state aid for library systems and public library construction and make it permanent.

You were the first Governor in over a dozen years to mention libraries in the State of the State Address and backed those words up by including increased funding for library systems ($8 million) and public library construction ($14 million) in the 2007-08 State Budget and I thank you for that.

The library community waited eight long years before finally obtaining an increase in state aid for library systems and public library construction. Between 1998 and 2006, library aid remained stagnant and was even cut by $4.5 million in 2005.

The modest increase in operating and construction aid are greatly appreciated and needed. In several cases, they arrived just in time to permit library systems to sustain their full range of operations. These funds have benefited libraries, schools and communities, like my own, by enhancing both the services and facilities available to library patrons of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds.

However, libraries cannot initiate long-term service improvements using these funds without a firm commitment from the state that these funds will be available in subsequent years to sustain those improvements.
That is why I urge you to maintain current levels of state aid for library systems and public library construction and make it permanent.

The increase in funding has provided hope to the over 9 million New Yorkers with library cards, that our state finally has leadership that values the contributions that libraries make to our information-based economy, to the flourishing of our democracy and to society’s insatiable need for information and life-long learning.

I also urge you to amend the Contracts for Excellence initiative to permit increased funding for the purchase of books for school libraries (increase in Library Materials Aid from $6.25 to $10 per pupil) as well as hiring school library media specialists in these high need school districts.

Thank you for your continued support for libraries and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future

Governor Eliot Spitzer
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224


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