Monday, March 21, 2011

Farley Lends Support to Libraries

With New York's libraries facing a 10 percent reduction in funding based on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget proposal, Senator Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, has introduced a measure on Friday that would make them eligible for other streams of funding.
His proposed legislation (SB 4100) would allow libraries to compete for Employment preparation Education funds for their pre-GED and other adult literacy services. This would provide libraries access to a $96 million fund that is currently only available to schools and BOCES, even though the state's public libraries provide many of the same educational services like computer and internet skills, job readiness workshops and financial literacy classes.
This bill is likely welcomed by the New York Library Association, as executive director Michael J. Borges implored the legislature to include this measure when he testified before the Joint Legislative Budget Committee on February 15. He characterized this change in law as one of fairness and equity, especially why the state's libraries see their funding drop below 1994 levels.
Initially, the governor proposed a budget of $76 million for the state's public libraries, which would be a reduction of about $8 million. Of that cut, $4.2 million was added back as additional aid by the Senate, but not the Assembly. The proposed budgets do include $14 million for public library capital projects.
New York has 23 public library systems, which support over 1000 public libraries, and there are also nine Reference and Research Library Resources Systems, which support 41 school library systems. are state-funded regional systems that provide support to not only the 23 public library systems. Additionally, there are over 900 academic, hospital, law, business, large public, and special libraries.

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