Spring 2002

The Trustee communicates issues affecting libraries and library services. Once a library and systems join LTA, all their trustees automatically receive this quarterly publication published by LTA. To learn more about membership in LTA, Click Here.

From The Desk Of The Library Committee Chair

Assemblywoman Naomi C. Matusow

Spring 2002 issue of Trustee

At first glance, the Governor's budget proposal released earlier this year doesn't look bad for libraries. $88.9 million dollars is included  for Chapter 917 funding, the same amount as last year.  One's first instinct is to think "Whew! No cuts."

But that first glance doesn't tell the real story. This year the Governor has cut library funding, both for our smallest local libraries and for the State Library. All it takes is a few minutes of scrutiny to see that the "level funding" of $88.9 million is less than our libraries are entitled to under the law.  

As we all know, funding for local libraries and library systems is based in part on the number of people served. After each Census the latest population numbers are used to recalculate funding. Since the 1990 Census,  New York's population has grown by nearly 1 million people.  This growth should bring an additional $2.4 million in library funding across the state. $88.9 may have worked under the 1990 Census, but now that number should be $91.3, and it isn't.

Population growth in New York did not grow evenly across the state. While New York City and its suburbs grew, upstate cities lost population. The Education Department has proposed to maintain funding for those libraries now serving fewer residents, in order to shield them from cuts in funding.  The Governor has instead introduced legislation that would hold all libraries to the funding they received in last year's budget, numbers based on the 1990 Census. That proposal would prevent libraries now serving increased populations from getting the additional funds they desperately need and deserve.

In addition, the Governor has again proposed taking libraries and other cultural education activities out of the Education Department and assigning them to a newly created agency. This year he has offered up a novel way to fund the administration of the State Library, Museum and Archives - by increasing from $5 to $20 the fees paid to county clerks to register and certify documents. Quadrupling these fees is estimated to raise $18 million annually, so the Governor has already removed from his budget proposal $18 million in funds previously designated for cultural education administration.  If the legislature rejects the relocation of cultural education, as it has each time the Governor has proposed it in the past, that $18 million will have to be replaced, or the State Library and the other state cultural institutions will have to close their doors.

The library community fought long and hard to get Chapter 917 fully funded.  No one who loves libraries should let the Governor get away with ignoring the law once again, and giving our libraries less than they are entitled to by law in this state. Every one of us should write the Governor, insisting that he make up the $2.4 million in funds for libraries that were not included in the budget. Many of you will be in Albany March 19th for NYLA Lobby Day. Tell every legislator with whom you meet that libraries are being short-changed. Ask them how they plan to help libraries get the money they need to continue to serve their communities.

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