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Library Advocacy Day – March 1, 2017

March 16th, 2017 No comments
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A group of 27 library supporters from Westchester joined the New York Library Association’s (NYLA) Library Advocacy Day in Albany on Wednesday, March 1st.  The group was made up of directors, trustees, staff, and advocates representing the following libraries:

Eastchester Public Library, Chappaqua Library, Larchmont Public Library, Mount Kisco Public Library, Mount Vernon Public Library, New Rochelle Public Library, Rye Free Reading Room, Somers Library, White Plains Public Library, Yonkers Public Library, Westchester Library System (WLS) and WLS HSE (High School Equivalency) Connect! & Westchester Seniors Out Speaking (WSOS) Volunteers.

We visited all the offices of the 14 legislators who represent Westchester County as follows:

Senator Jamaal Bailey [36th District]

Assemblyman Kevin Byrne [94th District]

Stewart-Cousins_Group

Pictured (l-r front row): Rob Caluori, Westchester Library System (WLS); Jane Prendergast, Mount Kisco Public Library; NYS Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (35th District); Donna Pesce, Chappaqua Library; Denise Bennet, WLS HSE Connect! Volunteer
(l-r back row): Michele Rogers, WLS Westchester Seniors Out Speaking (WSOS) Volunteer; Joe Maurantonio, WLS; Erik Carlson, White Plains Public Library; Tom Geoffino, New Rochelle Public Library; Doug Wray, WLS; Haina Just-Michael, New Rochelle Public Library; Aviva Lazarus, WLS HSE Connect! Volunteer

Senator Jeffrey Klein [34th District]

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow [89th District]

Senator David Carlucci [38th District]

Assemblyman David Buchwald [93rd District]

Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer [90th District]

Senator Terrence Murphy [40th District]

Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti [92nd District]

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin [88th District]

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef [95th District]

Senator George Latimer [37th District]

Assemblyman Steven Otis [91st District]

This year’s proposed Executive Budget for FY2016-2017 included $91.6 Million in Library Aid. This amount represents a 4% decrease over the final Library Aid amounts included in the FY2016 17 enacted budget and is 11% less than what is required by Education Law [$102.6 Million]. Our main focus asked for Library Aid to be funded to the full extent of Education Law.

Our Advocates spoke eloquently about how libraries continue to creatively adapt to meet the needs of their communities. This year we had a strong group of volunteers from WLS’s HSE Connect! program [that assists those seeking to complete their high school equivalency diploma] and the Westchester Seniors Out Speaking (WSOS) program [that helps adults age 60 and older achieve a better understanding of the benefits provided by Medicare and other related services]. These innovative outreach programs are excellent examples of the evolving role of libraries to partner with governmental and other agencies to better engage, inform and empower their communities.

Libraries are education and an excellent example of shared services.  They provide educational and recreational materials, access to high speed internet service and programs that focus on digital literacy, early childhood education, and online/virtual learning to all.  These tools allow people to build their own learning opportunities to help them reach their full potential and transform their lives.

Continue to let your Legislators know that supporting an increase to Library Aid is crucial.  There is still time — click here for NYLA’s Online Advocacy page today!

Library Advocacy Day 2015

March 13th, 2015 No comments
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Library Advocacy Day – February 25, 2015
 A group of 13 library supporters from Westchester joined the New York Library Association’s (NYLA) Library Advocacy Day in Albany on Wednesday, February 25.  The group was made up of directors, trustees, staff, and advocates representing the following libraries:  (Armonk) North Castle Public Library; Bedford Free Library; Eastchester Public Library; Irvington Public Library; Mamaroneck Public Library; Mount Pleasant Public Library; Mount Vernon Public Library; New Rochelle Public Library; Pound Ridge Library District; The Warner Library (Tarrytown); Westchester Library System.
Pictured (L-R): Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, 37th District, and Chair of the NYS Assembly Libraries & Education Technology Committee; Maureen Petry, Director, The Warner Library/Tarrytown; Pamela Bernstein, Librarian, and Carolyn Gallagher, Head of Children's Services, Irvington Public Library; Patricia Fontanella, Trustee, Westchester Library System & Library Trustees Association of New York State; Elise Burke, Executive Assistant, Westchester Library System; joined by Ric Swierat, Trustee, Mid-Hudson Library System (standing) and Joanne Sold, Chief of Staff for Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti

Pictured (L-R): Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, 92nd  District, and Chair of the NYS Assembly Libraries & Education Technology Committee; Maureen Petry, Director, The Warner Library/Tarrytown; Pamela Bernstein, Librarian, and Carolyn Gallagher, Head of Children’s Services, Irvington Public Library; Patricia Fontanella, Trustee, Westchester Library System & Library Trustees Association of New York State; Elise Burke, Executive Assistant, Westchester Library System; joined by Ric Swierat, Trustee, Mid-Hudson Library System (standing) and Joanne Sold, Chief of Staff for Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti

We visited all the offices of the 14 legislators who represent Westchester County in the following order:

TalkingPoint-SavingsImage

Our main ask of the legislators was to have Library Aid funded to the full extent of Education Law or $102.6 Million.  This year’s proposed Executive Budget for FY2015-2016 included only $86.6 Million in Library Aid, an amount which reflects levels equivalent to 1997.  The cost of living alone has risen 47% since then!  Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, Chair of the Assembly’s Libraries and Education Technology Committee, has sent a letter to Carl Heastie, Speaker of the Assembly, and Herman Farrell, Chair of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, in support of additional aid for libraries.

Through the efficient, centralized services provided by the public library systems, like Westchester Library System, millions are saved:

            • Facilitating sharing of library materials across the 38 libraries in Westchester
            • Ongoing maintenance of technology services including computers and wireless
            • Cataloging collection holdings for easier discoverability
            • Centralized purchasing of databases
            • County-wide collaboration and innovation

For those who could not attend Library Advocacy Day in Albany, a postcard campaign was held at the libraries in Westchester.  Over 1,700 postcards were sent to our Legislators.

2015 Advocacy Day Postcard-Image

            • Ardsley Public Library
            • Briarcliff Manor Public Library
            • Bronxville Public Library
            • Chappaqua Library
            • Croton Free Library
            • Dobbs Ferry Public Library
            • Eastchester Public Library
            • Harrison Public Library
            • Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library
            • Irvington Public Library
            • Lewisboro Library
            • Hendrick Hudson Free Library (Montrose)
            • New Rochelle Public Library
            • Ruth Keeler Memorial Library (North Salem)
            • Ossining Public Library
            • Pound Ridge Public Library
            • Somers Library
            • Tuckahoe Public Library
            • Yonkers Public Library
            • John C. Hart Memorial Library (Shrub Oak/Yorktown)

Thank you to this year’s dedicated group of Library Advocates—for all the ways in which you participated!   Library Aid is only 1/10 of 1% of the total State budget, and you helped to make our voices heard!

To quote a recent article by Joe Queenan in March 2015 edition of The Rotarian:

The public library is an indispensable institution that somehow manages to get taken completely for granted. Like the clouds above us, like the birds that fill those skies, it is a glorious creation that is hiding in plain sight. Society pays little attention to it, even though society cannot survive without it. Not any real society.

Let’s not take our libraries for granted.  The deadline for an on-time budget is March 31st, so there is still time to contact your legislator and ask them to sign on to Thomas Abinanti’s letter.  You can also click here for NYLA’s Online Advocacy page to send an email message to our legislators that libraries are an excellent investment in New York’s educational and cultural infrastructure.

Elise Burke
Executive Assistant
Westchester Library System
 

 

 

Got Numbers?

February 13th, 2015 No comments
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As we start to collect data for the New York State Annual Reports, I thought I would have a little fun with the numbers from 2013, as shown below.  The numbers really do tell a story, so even though completing these Reports can be boring and annoying, let’s try to think of the unlimited possibilities for using all of these facts and figures to convey the importance of libraries and how they can impact the world!

Fun Stats Blog Picture

Library Advocacy Day – Guest Post

March 15th, 2013 No comments
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Guest blog post by Haina Just-Michael, President, JustMediaGroup, Inc. and Vice President, Board of Trustees at the New Rochelle Public Library.

Advocacy2013-Andrea copy

Democratic Conference Leader Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins holds a poster created by Haina Just-Michael

This Advocacy day has, undoubtedly, a tremendous impact on both those of us who are lobbying and our legislators.  I would like to share a fun story. By pure happenstance, I collected a few of the “LIBRARIES ARE ESSENTIAL SERVICES” posters provided by some of the Library Advocacy groups from the breakfast/check-in room.  I was hanging onto them thinking I would use them somehow in my hometown of New Rochelle to carry our point home.  However, upon visiting our legislators and their assistants, it occurred to me that these posters would make for a great message to convey and underscore our point—we made the trip to meet with them and we want to leave our message with them!

The group of advocates signed the posters, and we left them with each one in the legislator’s office.   It is very possible that the elected officials never would have seen those posters, which were available at the NYLA Legislative Breakfast on the first floor of the building they work.  The packets we leave give specifics and lend much language to our message.

But the quick fix—which was the poster (and artwork which undoubtedly will remain among the memorabilia often seen in these offices) left a smile on theirs and our faces.  Proof in the pudding…the smile on Senator Stewart-Cousins’ face as she holds up our token. And, if you look closely, you can see all our signatures around the border!

 

Library Advocacy Day

March 13th, 2013 No comments
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(l-r) Guest speaker DavidVinjamuri and Senator Hugh Farley at the Legislative Office Building’s “Well” at the Rally hosted by NYLA

(l-r) Guest speaker David
Vinjamuri and Senator Hugh Farley at the Legislative Office Building’s “Well” at the Rally hosted by NYLA

A group of 23 library supporters from Westchester car pooled up to Albany to join the New York Library Association’s (NYLA) Library Advocacy Day on Tuesday, March 5th.  The group was made up of directors, trustees, and staff from all of our member libraries, as well as Westchester Library System and Westchester Library Association. We visited the offices of the 14 legislators who represent Westchester County. This year’s emphasis with all legislators was restoration of Library Aid to $102 Million vs. the $89.9 Million included in Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget.

WLS President Dave Donelson sums it up best in his blog post.

Library advocates from across New York State filled up the Legislative Office Building’s “Well” at the Rally hosted by NYLA which featured speakers Senator Hugh Farley and guest speaker David Vinjamuri.  A special thank you is due to this year’s great group of Library Advocates.  All contributed in some way—sharing insightful success stories from their libraries, taking pictures, driving, writing, tweeting, participating!

Since our visit, the Senate has included a proposed restoration of $4 Million in Library Aid for the FY 2013-14 Budget.  However, the NYS Assembly has not followed suit, including only the $89.9 Million the Governor proposed in his Executive Budget.

There is still time to contact your legislators!  Check out NYLA’s Virtual Advocacy Effort page for resources to show your support for libraries via social media as well as NYLA’s Online Advocacy page to contact your Assemblyman. The deadline for an on-time budget is March 31st.

Libraries do provide essential services—let’s be sure our legislators understand the value they bring to New York.