New York Library Association. - The eBulletin

Executive Director's Report

by Jeremy Johannesen, NYLA Executive Director

This is Who We Are

Much has been written in recent weeks about the role of libraries, and the appropriate response to a new administration in Washington, D.C.  For me, the role of libraries remains fixed regardless of who sits in the Oval Office; our core values and beliefs remain steadfast, and we remain always ready to challenge any opposition to them.

To that end I am including the Library Bill or Rights:

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.
I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

You can purchase a poster version of the Library Bill of Rights from ALA – click here.

Article Five has been of particular interest recently – resulting in a couple of fantastic graphic representations of this core value.  Working with Kerstin Cruger from the Mid-Hudson Library System, we have developed this door sign (pictured right), which you are free download, print and post:

In addition, the website Hafuboti posted a series of “Libraries are for Everyone” graphic that a free and open for use.


Both of these (and countless other) actions demonstrate the small things we each can do to reinforce the core values of librarianship, and to emphasize our commitment to working toward the better community and society that the existence of libraries represents.

Storytelling as Advocacy

“The story is the first thing, and the last thing,” – Norman Rockwell

As we ramp up for Library Advocacy Day, March 1, 2017 it is worth taking a moment to reflect on the value of the story.  Unless you have an eidetic memory, you don’t remember what you put on line 17 of your 2016 tax return, but I bet you do remember the details of your last vacation.  Stories stick.  Stories make concepts and numbers come alive.  When you meet with elected officials and implore them to adequately fund Library Aid in the NYS budget, they are not going to recall all the facts, figures and charts – what is going to stick is real stories of real people who were impacted by the services provided by the library.

To that end, kudos to the Mid-Hudson Library System’s ‘Real People, Real Dollars’ campaign (pictured left).  Using the NYLA Library Value Calculator they have been encouraging patrons to calculate their annual savings, write that number on a sign, and hold it up for a picture.  Simple. Powerful. Effective.

What stories from your library will you be telling on Library Advocacy Day?

Nickle and Dimed

Since 2007 NYS Library Aid has been under funded based on the statutory requirements in Education Law. Most recently that shortfall was $7M, which on a $95.6M total doesn’t sound like much, but the accumulated shortfall is far more insidious.  All totaled, NYS Library Aid has been under-funded by over $110M since 2007.  The functional equivalent of withholding an entire year’s funding.  No NYS program would withstand a year of being zeroed out in the budget, but that is the exact impact that chronic under-funding has had on NYS’ libraries.  It is time to make a fresh investment in the critical education infrastructure that is used by over 60% of NYers on a regular basis.

Click the image to enlarge.

Act NOW!

The 2017 Legislative Session is now in full swing.  Governor Cuomo has proposed $91.6M in Library Aid, which represents a $4M CUT from last year’s enacted budget.  This places funding at year 2000 levels.

Your action is needed!  You are all familiar with NYLA’s Online Advocacy Center, which makes it quick and easy to connect with your elected representatives.  This year we are calling on all of our advocates to leverage your social media connections to encourage your family, friends and patrons to join the fight.  Post a link to the NYLA Online Membership Center on your Facebook wall, tweet about your support for library aid, and urge your colleagues to do the same.  Together we can send a record number of messages to the NYS Legislature regarding library issues – make sure your voice is part of the fight!

NYLA’s Online Advocacy Center
NYLA’s Virtual Advocacy Resource Page
Direct Link to the Current Advocacy Action

Looking Ahead

Join your fellow NYLA members at any one of these fantastic events coming up this Spring that reach every corner of the state.

YSS Spring Conference
April 28, 2017
State Theatre of Ithaca, Ithaca, NY

National Library Legislative Day
May 1-2, 2017
Liaison Hotel, Washington, DC

Long Island Library Conference
May 4, 2017
Melville Marriott, Melville, NY

SSL 2017 Conference
May 4-6, 2017
Millennium Buffalo, Buffalo, NY


As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Jeremy Johannesen
NYLA Executive Director
518-432-6952 Ext. 101