FULTON, NY – For more than a century the Fulton Public Library has been a source of knowledge, entertainment and enlightenment. Thousands of individuals walk through its doors each week to take advantage of all the library has to offer.
But despite the popularity of the Fulton Public Library and the opportunities it offers community members, its future now lies largely with those it serves the most, those who reside in the Fulton City School District.
“Over the past few years the library has lost $110,000 in funding from the city of Fulton. These drastic cuts have brought about significant changes in how we now operate,” said Marian Stanton, president of the Fulton Public Library Board of Trustees.
These changes include a reduction in the days that the library is open and the size of the staff.
“When we reviewed our budget it was clear that the only areas we could cut back on were personnel and materials. As a result we are no longer open on Mondays and Tuesdays, were forced to lay off a full-time employee, actually no longer have full time employees, and we did not fill an open part-time position. We are maintaining our books and materials purchasing, in the hope that we can continue the level of offerings we had in previous years,” explained Stanton.
On May 15, residents of the Fulton City School District will be asked to vote on the Library Tax. According to Stanton, the result of the vote will have a huge impact on the library.
“The library tax increase request of $80,000, from the present $90,000 to $170,000, amounts to only eleven cents per thousand dollars of assessed value. Owners of a home valued at $80,000 would see an increase of only $8.80 a year. While that isn’t much for a household, it will be vital to the library services,” said Stanton.
“Passage of this provision will restore $80,000 of library funding and result in the immediate restoration of Tuesday service, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. With an approval of our request, when funds are received from the School District in October we will immediately reopen Mondays as well, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” promised Stanton.
In addition to tens of thousands of books, covering virtually every subject and genre, the Fulton Public Library offers a wide variety of other materials including e-books and audio books, DVDs, CDs, and magazines and newspapers, as well as computer access for both adults and youth, photo copy and fax service, and monthly movie screenings.
“The library is many things to many people,” said Maute. “Last year we had over 47,800 unique visits, with more than 8,800 of those visits for computer access or to take advantage of our free wireless accessibility.”
Maute said in addition to the visitors who check out materials, many stop in to take advantage of the popular events that the library offers.
“We host a number of on-going events and special workshops that are open to community members free of charge and appeal to everyone from children to seniors. Last year we hosted 135 programs and events that were attended by more than 1,200 individuals,” said Maute.
Some of the events and workshops offered by the Fulton Public Library include:
Story Hour for children Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m.
Coupon Exchange Group, first and third Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m.
Fiber Arts Group first and third Saturday of each month from 3 – 5 p.m.
Basic Computer Skills for adults
Writing Classes Adults and Children
Talks on Health Related topics
Talks on Local Points of Interest
Appearances by local authors for book signings and readings
Seminars on finances and budgeting
How to use the internet
Summer Reading Program for youth
“Our library provides access to all community members. From pre-school children to seniors, the library is a place for advancement, self-help and lifelong learning,” added Maute.
According to Maute, the library is among the most effective of all public services because it serves the public with about one-half of one percent of city tax dollars.
“When communities are struggling economically, libraries are part of the solution. During times of economic downturn, library usage increases. The computer access and workshops that we offer, our photocopying and our fax service are valuable tools for those looking for employment. It’s ironic that when communities need libraries the most, reductions in state and local funding limits their access,” said Maute.
As for the future, Maute said that the Fulton Public Library will continue to make the most of the funds it receives and do its best to meet the needs of the Fulton community.
“The Fulton Public Library is an invaluable resource. I encourage community members to acknowledge that value by supporting the Fulton Public Library on May 15,” said Maute.
For more information on the Fulton Public Library, contact Maute at 315-592-5159, visit www.fultonlibrary.info or find them on Facebook by searching Fulton Public Library.
You can reach Stanton at [email protected]