A blog about library sustainability and relevancy through community support and partnerships in the North Country Library System

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Voters support libraries!

Yesterday, north country residents went to the polls to vote on their local school budgets.  24 NCLS  libraries used those ballots to seek additional permanent funding to increase their operating budgets.  23 of those passed.  Here's the list of successful votes:

The library whose vote did not pass was the Hepburn Library of Waddington.  Library officials were seeking an additional $20,000 on the ballot, and, despite their efforts the vote was overwhelmingly defeated 453-103.  Unforeseen contention about the tax increase to Madrid residents within the school district was the reason the vote failed.

 In all, approximately $331,000 in local library funding was approved.  This is tremendous, especially during a time where an increase in local taxes is almost always met with public discord, no matter what the taxes will support.  The success rates of yesterday votes show that our communities DO support our libraries and this shouldn't be taken lightly.

Thank you to our communities who have shown support to your library.  Without you, our libraries would not be able to provide the services they do.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Good news from Albany

The Governor and Legislature have come to an agreement on the FY2016-17 New York State budget and there is some good news for libraries!

​State Library Aid will see a $4M increase for a total of $95.6M.  This represents a 4.3% increase which is equivalent to the increase in education aid and is the most library aid included in any state budget since FY2008-09.  This gets us closer to full funding for libraries ($102.7M) which we haven't seen since 2007.
State Construction Aid for libraries was increased by $5M for a total of $19M.  This represents  a 35% increase, a first in nearly a decade.  Specifically for NCLS, this increase amounts to a total of $548,000 (up from $406,000) available for our libraries for constructions projects.  This increase will enable more of our libraries to make much needed improvements to their buildings.
These increases in State support were not possible without the advocacy efforts from NYLA our member library people.  You're letters, phone calls and visits to our local Legislators have paid off.  Thank you for all of your hard work in speaking up for our libraries!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

It's crunch time

Yesterday I had to the opportunity to attend Library Advocacy Day in Albany.  It was a day of meeting with Senators and Assembly members and spreading our message and rallying with library lovers from all over the State.  And a lot of walking.

Our north country libraries were well represented by staff from the libraries in Cape Vincent, Henderson, Osceola, Phoenix, Fulton and Lowville.  When meeting with our local representatives, we focused on the first two budget priorities in NYLA's Legislative Agenda: 1) Increasing library aid in proportion to education aid, and 2) Increasing the State Library Construction Aid program from $14M to $30M.  Other issues were discussed, but these two have the greatest impact on our member libraries.

The response from from every legislator we heard from was the same: We're on your side.  However, we were also warned that the proposed budget doesn't have any "wiggle room" and that an increase in library aid (library aid remains flat in the proposed budget) will be hard to get. 
So now it's crunch time.  We need to keep advocating for libraries even though Advocacy Day is over.  Continue to contact your local representatives.  Thank them for their support.  Tell them to keep pressure on their colleagues to increase library aid.  Contacting them takes only takes a minute or two by clicking here.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Listening to your community (and responding)

I "like" several of NCLS member libraries on Facebook.  It's great to see what they post and how their patrons respond.  A few days ago I was scrolling through my feed and came across a status update from a particular library.  The Croghan Free Library posted that, in response to the community's request, they were extending their hours an extra 6 hours each week to include morning hours (which the library is currently lacking).  The request came as a result of a community-wide patron survey that library conducted several weeks prior. 

CFL is currently open the state required minimum of 20 hrs a week (based on their service population), which is basically all their modest budget allows.  The 30% increase in open hours represents an added cost to the library.  The library board didn't make the decision without considering this, so they are enacting the extra hours on a trial basis.  If the change needs to be made permanent, the Board will make sure they have the resources to do so.

Ultimately this is a great example of a library making a change in order to stay relevant in their community.  They library saw the need to be open more hours and isn't letting an added expense prohibit them from serving their community better.  Their community asked, and the library answered. 

Kudos to the staff and board of the Croghan Free Library for listening (and responding) to your community.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

State aid for libraries - take action NOW!

Governor Cuomo's FY2016-17 Executive Budget has funding for libraries remaining flat at $91.6M.  We're asking for a 4.3% increase from last year's funding, which is the same percentage increase that he has proposed in the Education budget ($992M).  This increase would get NYS libraries closer to the full funding required by ED Law ($102.6M) which was last received in 2007.

Fill out this form to let your voice be heard.  (It takes about 30 seconds to do)

Check out the the full run-down of the NYLA's legislative priorities on their website.  The New York Library Association does an excellent job in lobbying on behalf of our libraries and letting us know what going on in Albany.  They also provide handy advocacy tools.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Permanent funding courtesy of your school ballot

It's the time of year again! Time where library board members gather their thoughts and decide if they are going to seek additional funding for their library by going out on the school ballot in the Spring.  Because this is one of the easiest ways to secure permanent additional funding (and Ed. Law says it's totally legit) I strongly encourage everyone to consider this option. 

Think of what your library could accomplish with the extra money.  Here are just a few of my favorite ideas:
  • Replace a cut from another funding source
  • Give your staff a well-deserved (and long overdue) raise!
  • Pay for an additional annual expense (internet/computer upgrades, etc.)
  • A really awesome new program for your patrons (that you plan to keep doing)
If I've convinced you and you're ready to do this (or if you are still on the fence) check out the School Ballot Kit on the NCLS Website.  It details the process and has a timeline for all the steps involved (don't worry - it's not a complicated process).

P.S.  If your library board hasn't had a school ballot discussion - they need to start talking!  Just let me know and I will be more than happy to help get the ball rolling.