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Library trustees on NY budget cuts

March 24, 2011

The trustees of the Western Sullivan Public Library have grave concerns about the New York State Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget cuts. These cutbacks arrive on top of five reductions in the past three years. If enacted, the governor’s budget would reduce library funding to levels not known since 1994.

In addition to being draconian, these cuts are disproportionate and unfair. Proposed cuts to municipalities come to two percent. School aid would decline 7.3 percent. Those are terrible and regrettable. But library reductions would top them all—10 percent. Has punishing libraries become the convenient way to recover revenue?

Those who work in libraries recognize that times are hard. They know that because they provide the reading material, multi-media resources, tax forms and tax preparation pamphlets, and—more important than ever—internet access. And we provide those services for free to New York’s citizens, regardless of education level, class, income or age.

To close libraries or reduce hours and services at a time when economically vulnerable New Yorkers are using libraries like never before is neither fair nor wise.

This state and this nation have seen recessions and depressions before. And during each downturn, libraries were there. When times are darkest, the welcoming glow of an open library is not a luxury but a necessity. And, at the risk of sounding melodramatic, a sign that civilization can and will endure.

These proposed cuts go out of their way to single out libraries, society’s most successful experiment in democracy and shared knowledge. Certainly this cannot be the governor’s message. This should not be his legacy.

The trustees of the Western Sullivan Public Library as a board, and also individually, have stated our concerns and opposition to the proposed cuts. We ask your help in getting the word out to your legislators in opposition to the proposed cuts. We need your voices heard.

The Trustees of the Western Sullivan Public Library
Sullivan County, NY