Opinion: Library cuts impact everyone

Dear Editor,

The proposed fiscal year 2020-2021 New York State library budget once again cuts aid to libraries. Library funding in the proposed budget is $4 million less than the 2019-2020 enacted state budget. Funding for Library Construction Aid, which is used by local libraries to fund 50 percent of vital renovation needs, is proposed as $14 million, down from the $34 million fought for and finally approved by the 2019 legislature.

New York State Library aid goes not only to individual libraries, but also to library systems, which are the vital lifeline for our local community libraries. Besides advising local library directors and boards on the many facets of running our libraries, library systems maintain the online Union Catalogs of all print and non-print resources in all of our area libraries, keep the register of all borrowers in the system’s libraries, and make possible sharing of resources between libraries, thereby, extending services to each of us and our families far beyond what is possible in one library alone.

Professional staff members with the Finger Lakes Library System in particular maintain public and staff computer systems and WiFi services in the Finger Lakes Library System (FLLS) libraries and give assistance for building local library websites. FLLS aids in finding funding and year round resources for children’s programming, from Pre-school to young adult. FLLS staff members advise local directors about state and federal regulations and give assistance in meeting the requirements. 

In addition to traditional library services provided locally, many libraries have meeting spaces which allow them to cooperate with area agencies providing services ranging from families dealing with Alzheimer’s, to children’s summer lunch programs, GED and job training opportunities for young adults, STEAM programs, and much more.

Library Construction Aid, as matching money, enables libraries to improve their electrical, heating, cooling and plumbing systems, upgrades that reduce future costs for a library. Construction Aid funding goes to building ramps and lifts and to renovating bathrooms and other spaces to enable those with accessibility issues to come in and use the library.  

Contact your state representative now to let them know how important libraries are to you and your family.  


Carol Kania


Berkshire Free Library

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