New York Voters Support Libraries: Will State Legislators?

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ALBANY, NY (11/10/2009)(readMedia)-- The New York Library Association (NYLA) is urging State Legislators to reject the Governor's proposed $3.375 million cut in Library Aid. The Governor's proposed cut is on top of two cuts in 2008 totaling $3 million and an $8 million cut imposed in April 2009. These combined cuts have reduced Library Aid from $102 million in 2007 to $91 million so far this year. If the Governor's new cuts are approved by the Legislature, it will reduce funding for library services to $88 million or 1998 levels.

"According to a recent report from the NYS Library, 97% of library budgets have been approved by voters over the last three years. This overwhelming support by voters demonstrates that libraries are valued and funded by New Yorker taxpayers all around the state. The question is do State Legislators share their constituents values and vote to reject the Governor's proposed cuts in state funding for libraries," stated Michael J. Borges, NYLA Executive Director.

In addition, these state cuts will result in a corresponding loss of almost $2.3 million in federal aid that is used to fund innovative and cost-sharing programs at libraries and to fund the NOVEL databases that are used by all types of libraries and which saves them approximately $87 million a year through statewide licensing of these valuable information tools, that are used by students, researchers, and businesses.

The proposed reductions in funding for library services, come at a time when library usage is at historic highs. "During tough economic times, people flock to libraries to save money, to improve their literacy and computer skills, to look for employment opportunities, to access public assistance programs, and even to pay their taxes," continued Mr. Borges.

According to a study funded by the Gates Foundation, 73% of libraries serve as a community's only option for free internet access, and that number rises to 82% in rural areas. This means if you don't have a computer or internet access at home -- and according to the U.S. Census Bureau 38% of Americans still do not have internet access at home, you rely on the library for free internet access.

If you are unemployed and 874,300 New Yorkers are unemployed as of September 2009, which means 38% of the unemployed or 332,234 or more are depending on libraries for internet access. Why is this important, because 75% of all job listings are online and at least 60% of companies only accept employment applications online. "It makes no sense for the Legislature to cut funding for services that people are relying on to survive and climb out of these difficult economic times," concluded Mr. Borges.