As the president of the board of trustees of the Jericho Public Library, I am writing to publicly declare my support for our library and for all the libraries in New York State. Our library, like so many others, is the cornerstone of our community. Libraries are for everyone; they provide a safe and welcoming space for all New Yorkers, regardless of race or ethnicity, religion, country of origin, income or education level. Federal policies are undermining New York’s already inequitable tax structure, and the result leaves funding for local education services like public libraries under attack.
To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “a budget is a moral document.” Where we, through our elected officials, chose to spend our collective resources serves as a testament to what we value. As our elected representatives come together in Albany this winter to craft this year’s New York State budget, I want a document that speaks to our hopes rather than our fears and creates policies that will benefit every New Yorker—and there is no better declaration of intent than funding our community libraries.
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; and many other programs and services too numerous to list here.
New York State has failed to fully fund library services for more than a decade. This decade of underfunding has withheld more than $110M in state library aid. This has not only undermined local education opportunities, but has pushed costs onto local taxpayers. When New York fails to fund library services, we end up with diminished services that cost more. It’s not only inefficient, it’s unconscionable.
Join me in using the online advocacy system offered by the New York Library Association to write to the governor and the legislature: nyla.org/advocacy.