February 6, 2009 Message (Update #1)
from Bernard A. Margolis, New York
I am pleased to introduce myself (to many of you again) and to express thanks and appreciation for the many notes of welcome which I have received in my new role as New York State Librarian. I am honored and pleased to be serving you.
Though it has been only three and a half weeks since I began there is much to share. I hope to regularly keep you updated on my work and to alert you to important activities, issues and initiatives. While I have spent a great deal of my time learning "the ropes", as you might imagine there has been some focus on the funding crisis.
The American Library Association (ALA) has been working to try to raise the general library profile in the federal stimulus package (also called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). While the House version included the words "school libraries", ALA is working to get the words "public libraries" into the now being debated Senate version. ALA has been assured that the Broadband funding opportunities will include libraries.
State funding issues have also been at the forefront. The budget deficit legislation signed by the Governor yesterday to address the shortfall in the current 2008-2009 State budget has good news for libraries. There are no new cuts. However, the "sweep" required to generate $50 million in savings includes $50,000 from the State Library budget. The State budget for 2009-2010, as proposed by the Governor, does include $18 million in cuts for libraries. These cuts would be devastating.
If you have ever wanted to inform your legislators about the importance of libraries - especially as part of the critical public support safety net - now is the time. The Assembly and Senate will be working on the State budget over the next couple weeks. Deputy Commissioner Jeffrey Cannell, Regent James C. Dawson (Chair of the Cultural Education Committee of the Regents), members of the Regents Advisory Council for Libraries, Carol Ann Desch, Coordinator of Statewide Library Services and Director of Library Development and myself will be visiting key legislators on February 24th. These visits are designed to inform legislators about library funding and support matters. Send any stories and anecdotes that you think we might share to illustrate the importance of libraries, especially your libraries.
The New York Library Association is planning a major legislative activity on Tuesday March 10th. This will be critically important to the future of library support. I encourage your active participation.
More internal to the State Library and its direct services has been a new beginning for the discussion of Saturday public service hours. I think this type of service enrichment is necessary as part of an overall goal to make the New York State Library indispensable to state government, the state's libraries and the state's residents. I will keep you posted as this review progresses.
In conclusion, I want to be sure that everyone has my new e-mail address:
I hope you will feel free to contact me with you thoughts and concerns. I am at your service.
Bernard A. Margolis