A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
There are more than 6,000 public libraries in New York State providing access to books, movies, technology, various workshops and classes. They enrich our communities and provide educational opportunities at every stage of life.
In addition to being a source for books, libraries provide public access to the internet and computers.
This access is particularly important in small rural communities where access to high-speed internet is limited. There are numerous on-line library resources available.
For example, NYS libraries offer NOVEL, an online virtual library that provides unlimited information about any topic imaginable. With this type of access, even if the community’s library is small with a limited collection, the library still can provide patrons the ability to obtain information in a manner similar to what is offered in larger metropolitan libraries.
Another and more traditional service that our libraries provide is programming for small children and teens.
For example, many libraries offer summer reading programs that promote early literacy. Through the summer reading programs, children are encouraged to discuss, write about, and report on the books they read.
Library staff also help children select reading materials and provide literacy-enhancing programs such as storytelling, music, creative arts, and performances.
All of this helps build community while increasing literacy rates and preventing the summer slide—a learning loss that occurs when the school year ends and kids stop reading.
For these reasons and many others, New York should be investing in libraries – especially at a time when library use is up.
Unfortunately, the governor thinks differently and has proposed cutting library aid by $4 million in this year’s budget.
This is not unusual. In past years, the governor has either proposed flat funding or cuts to NYS library aid.
Fortunately, the value of public libraries is one area where most state legislators agree.
For that reason, I am hopeful that the proposed aid cut to libraries can be rejected and perhaps aid can even be increased. If you feel as strongly as I do about continuing the services that libraries provide please make your support known.
If you have any questions or comments regarding this or any other state issue, please contact me.
My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected], or by calling (315) 598-5185.
You also can friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.