As the President of the Board of Trustees of the Port Washington Public Library, I am writing to publicly declare my support for our library, and for all public libraries. The Port Washington Public Library, like so many public libraries in New York, is the cornerstone of our community. It provides a safe and welcoming space for all, regardless of race or ethnicity, religion, country of origin, income or education level.
New York State’s public libraries offer free and equal access to educational opportunities, and are the primary source of Internet access for many of our neighbors. New Yorkers of all ages, experiences and needs turn to their local library for early literacy programs; classes in adult education and financial literacy; health groups and fitness workshops; technology assistance; English and other language classes; a wealth of online resources; and many other programs and services too numerous to list here.
Unfortunately, New York has failed to fully fund library services for more than a decade, undermining local education opportunities and pushing costs on to local taxpayers. When New York fails to adequately fund its public libraries, we end up with diminished services that cost more. And the poorest and neediest among us suffer the most.
To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “a budget is a moral document.” Where we, through our elected officials, choose to spend our collective resources testifies to what we value. Our elected representatives will soon gather in Albany to craft this year’s state budget. It is my hope that the document they produce will speak to our great American values of inclusiveness and opportunity for all by providing desperately needed funding for our community libraries.
Join me in using the online advocacy system offered by the New York Library Association to write to the Governor and the Legislature: www.nyla.org/advocacy.
—John M. O’Connell
PWPL Board of Trustees