Saturday, March 7, 2009

Speak Up For Libraries

When times are tough--as these certainly are--more and more people turn to our libraries for assistance and relief. National estimates of increased traffic in public libraries are echoed in Westchester (NY) county, where I am a trustee of WLS, the cooperative system that serves the 38 public libraries in the county.

Choose a metric:

circulation through our inter-library loan program is reaching an all-time high

people are standing in line waiting to access the Internet through our libraries' computers

enrollment in our career planning program, WEBS, is bursting at the seams (as you might expect)
In short, free public libraries have never been more valuable to the citizens of Westchester county than they are right now. With the economic downturn expected to last many, many more months, this trend is bound to accelerate.

That's why it's more important than ever than our libraries receive as much support as possible from our public funders at all levels. Michael Borges, Executive Director of the NY Library Association, makes the case in this video of his appearance on Senator Liz Krueger’s (D-Manhattan) cable show and NYLA's testimony before the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing.

Both the NY State Assembly and the Senate are preparing to release their budget proposals next week. Despite receiving approximately $24.6 billion in federal stimulus funds, including $2.4 billion for school aid over the next two years, NY state threatens to cut Library Aid funding.

Now is the time to tell your state representatives and senators about the urgent need to restore the proposed 18% cut in Library Aid that will impact all types of libraries, public, school and college. The quickest and easiest way to make your voice heard is to use NYLA's easy online advocacy center.

I hope you'll speak up today.

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

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