To the editor:
In each of his last three state budgets, Governor Cuomo has proposed cutting aid for library systems. Last year, his proposed library aid bill would have reduced support to just 1 percent above its level in 1999. These cuts undermine the vital role that libraries play in every community in Columbia County. For every $1 in state aid received, the Mid-Hudson Library system produces $7 in services at the local level.
Libraries in Columbia County are leading the way in delivering broadband connectivity; e-resources, such as downloadable ebooks; audiobooks, e-magazines and free online courses. They provide STEM programs, digital literacy services, defenses to on-line scams and the first federal Census to be primarily conducted online. The library system, which serves 66 libraries in the region, deserves a positive infusion of state dollars to operate efficiently and effectively.
Our libraries are much more than beacons of technology and literacy. They are the cornerstone of New York’s education, civic and social infrastructure. Yet they are threatened by repeated executive budget proposals to freeze and/or cut aid to our library systems. 21st century libraries need 21st century funding support. It is time for the Governor to propose a bold investment in the library infrastructure in his next state budget. We are grateful to see messaging from the Governor in the past month that acknowledges the importance of libraries. Let’s put some money from where this sentiment comes from.
Gary L. Spielmann
President, Board of Trustees
Kinderhook Memorial Library