Library Community Outraged by Proposed $20 Million Cut

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ALBANY, NY (11/13/2008)(readMedia)-- The NYS Division of Budget has recommended to Governor Patterson a $20 million cut in Library Aid that amounts to an additional 20% reduction in state funding for library services and would bring Library Aid down to a level not seen since 1993.

"The library community is outraged by this proposal and the continued targeting of libraries to solve the state's budget shortfalls. Library Aid has already been cut twice this year, in April by 2% as part of the adopted 2008-09 State Budget and then again at the Special Session in August by another 6%", stated Michael J. Borges, Executive Director of the New York Library Association.

Library Aid was reduced from $103 million in 2007 to $100 million in April and then reduced further to $99 million in August of this year. Library Aid had remained stagnant for eight years between 1998-2006, when the Legislature finally agreed to modest increases in funding and began utilizing the 2000 Census to calculate Library Aid instead of the 1990 Census.

"No other educational institutions have been targeted for a 20% cut in state funding. There seems to be no recognition by state budget makers that library usage has skyrocketed over the last year as more people turn to libraries for finding jobs, improving their literacy skills and for free reading materials and programs for their families," continued Mr. Borges.

The cuts will fall heavily on the 73 library systems throughout the state that are the backbone of our libraries and information infrastructure. Library systems provide libraries with shared services, like inter-library loans, centralized cataloging, website hosting and staff training. They are an example of how the library community has long been a champion and role model for regional cooperation, resource sharing and providing services in a cost-effective and efficient manner that saves libraries of all types and their patron's money.

"The state is proposing to cut the very mechanisms that enable libraries to serve 75% of New York households in a cost-effective and efficient manner. On one hand they are asking communities to do things collaboratively to save taxpayers money and on the other hand they are cutting the very means to make it happen. It makes absolutely no sense what so ever," concluded Mr. Borges.

The New York Library Association will be holding a Rally in the Well of the Legislative Office Building from 1-2:30 pm on Tuesday, November 18th, the day the Legislature is returning to Albany for a Special Session, to protest these additional cuts in funding.