Thursday, November 13, 2008

An Open Letter To NY Governor Paterson

Dear Governor Paterson,

The fiscal abuse of libraries in the state of New York has gone on long enough. I urge you to rescind your proposed 20% cut in library aid for the good of your constituents and the health of our state's economy.

Please remember that New York's libraries don't just have shelves full of books, but provide help with job searches, coach people through career changes, assist new Americans to navigate through our society, help older citizens manage their health care, and provide many, many other essential services to people who need them most. Library usage is skyrocketing right now, putting greater pressure than ever on our facilities. A funding cut as large as you propose will cripple us.

I serve as a trustee of the Westchester Library System, a cooperative that depends heavily on state support to provide the services so necessary to our citizens. As you are working on your budget revisions, I hope you'll keep in mind that there are 523,000 library card holders in Westchester--arguably the largest single group of voters in the county. The sheer number of library users should give you some idea of how important libraries are to the people of New York.

Your proposed cut will take over $400,000 out of the Westchester Library System budget alone. That will have a devastating impact on our ability to provide services to the patrons of the 38 public libraries in Westchester. You might be interested to know that we were planning on a very tight budget year but intended to dip into our meager reserves in order to maintain critical services. A cut of this magnitude would essentially wipe out those reserves, necessitating deep cuts in services.

As a citizen and a library trustee, I can assure you we are prepared to tighten our belt. I plead with you to help us avoid cinching it around the necks of the library users in the county.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

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