Library directors will be lobbying state representatives to restore a $3.5 million cut in library aid as well as a $20 million cut in library construction funds to the state budget.
Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System Executive Director Janice Dekoff said the current year’s budget had included a $5 million increase in aid for a total of $104.6 million and this would be a set-back.
She said library officials were surprised to see this cut by Governor Kathy Hochul, “Since she’s been very supportive of us. And knowing that there has been a surplus in New York State of $8.7 billion, to talk about a $3.5 million cut from where we currently are seems like such a small thing.”
Dekoff said the libraries’ delivery service, which provides delivery of books and materials between the 36 libraries in the system, could be impacted by this cut, “It makes funding go further for all of our libraries. We have libraries whose entire book budget is less than $5,000, sometimes much less, and they can’t afford to buy all of the books that they would want to do. So by having that delivery service and that connection with the other libraries what they’re able to offer their community has grown exponentially from what they have.”
Dekoff said the cut in construction funding will make it harder to make needed upgrades to old facilities, “They’re looking at libraries that are, on average, 80 years old plus. And getting those buildings to be ADA compliant, energy efficient, safe for the public, you know we have libraries that struggle tremendously. They have these old, wonderful buildings but with those old, wonderful buildings come a lot of expenses.”
Dekoff said she would be joining other library officials in Albany this next week to meet with State Senators and Assembly representatives to advocate for funding to be restored.
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