From the President: April 2014
Sara Kelly Johns, NYLA President
NYLA is You and You are NYLA: A LOUD Voice for Libraries
…and we have more work to do!
The remark by a legislator that “those librarians were pretty feisty this year” shows that NYLA is making a difference in Albany. After an energetic, well-attended NYLA Advocacy Day and the accompanying Virtual Advocacy Day, NYLA’s collective voice was strong and could not be ignored.
The Governor’s proposed cut of $4 million in Library Aid proposals became instead an increase of $5M over the Executive Budget, and $1M above FY2013-14. The $5M Legislative add to Library Aid is the largest since 2007 and the second largest in well over a decade.
If you haven’t already, please take a minute (literally) to send a pre-drafted message of thanks to your elected representatives via NYLA’s Online Advocacy Center.
It’s a victory, but we sure need to keep up our involvement to have even better results next year. And, right now, we need to increase the volume of NYLA’s collective voice to object to the ludicrous proposal by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), the House Budget Committee Chairman, to eliminate the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
It’s our databases! The NOVEL databases insure that all libraries are able to offer a menu of databases with high quality information available onsite and virtually to the people who value their libraries. I can’t cite exact numbers, but anecdotally many public and school librarians report that the NOVEL databases are the only ones they are able to offer. All libraries are able to maximize local funds by supplementing the NOVEL databases with others selected for their communities. NYLA and the New York State Library have advocated for a stable state budget line for databases over the years but that does not seem to be happening any time soon.
And then there’s the state’s summer reading programs. LSTA funds administered by IMLS in our state support the Statewide Summer Reading Program in our local communities that prevents the “summer slide” of reading skills gained learned during the school year. According to the New York State Library website, more than 1.7 million children and teens from throughout New York State participated in the 2012 Statewide Summer Reading Program.
From ALA President Barbara Stripling’s response: “In Rep. Ryan’s own state of Wisconsin, more than 65 percent of libraries report that they are the only free access point to Internet in their communities. Just a few blocks from Rep. Ryan’s Wisconsin office, more than 716,000 visitors used the Hedberg Public Library in Janesville, Wisconsin to access library computers and research databases, check out books and receive job training in 2013. The Institute of Museum and Library Services administered more than $2.8 million in the 2014 fiscal year to help Wisconsin libraries prepare young students for school and provide lifelong learning opportunities for all Wisconsin residents. For example, the state reported that more than 215,000 children participated in summer reading programs at Wisconsin public libraries.” New York State has the same stories—and those stories need to be heard.
Paul Ryan’s proposal is not likely to last during budget negotiations but it’s not a message that legislators need to hear. It only takes minutes to register your protest, to affirm the value of the contributions that IMLS makes to libraries--and to the people who vote for those who vote on the country’s budget. It’s time to make that call or send an e-mail or a Tweet to your federal legislators with stories of the impact made in your community with IMLS programs and funds. And, please take the time to sign the WhiteHouse.gov petition asking President Obama release a statement that funding libraries and museums is a core federal responsibility.
And, it’s time to make your plans to join the New York delegation to National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) on May 4th and 5th, to make appointments with your legislators, and to tell your stories and facts about your libraries in person on Capitol Hill. You have the chance to participate in Virtual Library Legislative Day (VLLD) if you can’t make it to Washington connecting remotely with legislators via phone calls, text messages, e-mails and Twitter.
Supporting IMLS funding will be only one of the issues addressed with NLLD and VLLD. ALA’s briefings and the Washington Office website will get us ready to “storm the Hill” with a LOUD NYLA voice.
Open Libraries mean Open Minds--YOU can make a difference!