Governor Andrew Cuomo has worked hard to make New York State a champion of progressive policies that provides critical services to all New Yorkers. Unfortunately, the proposed $5 million reduction in funding for New York State’s libraries in the Governor’s proposed 2021 budget once again fails to recognize the vital role that libraries play in every community in New York State.
Libraries are the fabric the weaves our communities together. For example, in 1999, less than one third of public libraries had a publicly accessible computer and today nearly every public library is the primary source of access to the internet for nearly a quarter of households earning below $50,000 annually. Furthermore, in the world of increased technological connectedness, it is even more imperative to have libraries serve as a center for social interactions that is filled with culture, learning and acceptance. In addition, libraries are also being increasingly called upon to assist state government in its initiatives such as the upcoming 2020 Census. Despite the rapidly evolving function of libraries in meeting the needs of all New Yorkers, Governor Cuomo has proposed library Aid at just 1 percent above where it had been funded two decades earlier in 1999.
In addition, the governor has proposed a $20 million cut in library construction aid. More than 50 percent of the public libraries are more than 60 years old.
We urge Governor Cuomo and the legislature to take action on behalf of our libraries. They need to make bold new investments in our libraries to provide them with the needed resources to provide all New Yorkers with 21st Century library service.
Join us in speaking up for our libraries, write the Governor and your legislators by signing up as a library champion at www.nyla.org/advocacy.
—Sima Vasa and Bill Keller