STLS libraries proudly serve Allegany, Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben & Yates counties.
Governor Cuomo recently announced his 2018 Executive Budget. For three consecutive years he has rolled back funding to STLS member libraries. This is surprising because he proposed a 3% increase in education aid. Libraries are education, and should receive equivalent increases.
What does this mean for our libraries?
$260,751 decrease in construction aid to member libraries
In 2017, our system received $625,801 for local library capital projects. The Governor’s proposal reduces this to $365,050. This is a 42% cut in local library investment. A 2016 system survey put total construction needs at $13 million. It will take 35 years to meet this demand based on the 2018 proposal.
$49,863 reduction in library system support
Member libraries are experiencing the lowest increase in *Cost Share history. 50% of libraries actually realized a decrease in 2017. This is due to increased aid to STLS in 2015 & 2016. Ultimately, the cost to support automation and technology-based services is passed along to local libraries when funding to the library system is cut.
*Funds pooled together by member libraries to support the online catalog, internet connections and/or electronic materials.
$6,939 roll back of central library aid
These funds provide a direct benefit to our member libraries and Chemung County Library District (CCLD). Central library aid purchases eBooks, online magazine subscriptions, databases and print non-fiction books, which are available to all 48 Southern Tier communities. They also fund our system-wide virtual reference desk and training for librarians and trustees. A cut to CCLD is a cut to all five STLS counties.
$4,733 cut in operating support to member libraries
Our local libraries receive state support for general operations. These funds are used for collections, programs, technology, facilities or wages. $4,733 may not seem like much, but it equals some our libraries’ annual collection budget. This reduction undermines resource sharing, specifically library materials, in a cooperative system.
What can you do to help today?
Email our state legislators. It will take 1-minute of your time. The New York Library Association (NYLA) has prepared a general message that is sent to state representatives who have control over library funding. Simply click here and enter your contact information to let them know funding is important to your library. Library funding will become their priority as messages are received!
What can you do in the coming weeks?
Visit our senate and assembly representatives. On Friday, February 2nd we will travel to Olean Public Library to meet with Senator Catharine Young and Assemblyman Joe Giglio.
On Thursday, February 8th we will meet with Senator Tom O’Mara, Assemblyman Chris Friend and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano at the Big Flats Town Hall.
At both meetings, library advocates can discuss the amazing work they do, or the services they receive through Southern Tier libraries.
Contact STLS Administrative Assistant Melissa Morrissey (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in attending.
What can you do next month?
Participate in NYLA’s Advocacy Day. On Wednesday, February 28, STLS will coordinate a bus trip to Albany and once again meet with our representatives. We will advocate to restore Construction Aid and overall Library Aid to our member libraries and library system. You can register for this event by clicking here.
We had 28 advocates make the trip in 2017. We hope to have even more this year. All participants receive a Libraries Are For Everyone t-shirt.
Why does advocacy matter?
Advocacy happens all year. Often we inform our elected officials of the good work we are doing, invite them to events or send them “thank you” notes.
Leveraging increases in 2018 sets the tone for future years. We are seeing real results as a system. The relationship between STLS and member libraries is strong! We are making a difference through the work we do each day. This is being demonstrated objectively and subjectively. Our member libraries are having significant impacts.
Decreasing support to our membership and our library system slows progress. Taking funding away at a time when we are moving forward jeopardizes the services we provide tomorrow. Our Southern Tier community deserves our very best. And we have a responsibility to provide it.
Advocacy matters because it not only gives us the resources we need to be successful, but because it defines us as a public service.
I thank you for your ongoing support and consideration in 2018. I believe in us!
Brian Hildreth, Executive Director
Southern Tier Library System