Library funding issues addressed

Wednesday October 10, 2012

On behalf of the Trustees of the New Lebanon, N.Y., Library, I wish to correct an error and address some issues raised ("Excessive library grant in New Lebanon," letters, Sept. 28), about library funding.

First, recognizing how vital the library is to the life and the future of the community, the citizens of New Lebanon have voted -- not once, but twice in referendums in 2001 and again in 2007 -- to fund the library under a New York State 414 statute.

The 414 legislation was created to: One, provide a predictable income stream for libraries; two, guarantee voters a direct voice in library funding; and three, remove local funding for local libraries from local politics.

Communities throughout the state have supported 414 referendums as a way of guaranteeing the stability and continuity of library services. The fact that also 200 people in our small town made voluntary donations in the last year attests to the wide support that our library enjoys.

Second, funding for the New Lebanon Library is not out of line with that of other Colum bia County libraries. As the Kinderhook Library website clearly indicates, local taxpayers contribute $202,000, not $22,000 as the letter writer, having dropped a zero, mistakenly asserts. The funding formulas for all the libraries in the Mid-Hudson system are available on the Mid-Hudson website. Details of the 414 statute are posted on the New York State website.

Third, many hundreds of New Lebanon taxpayers de pend on the library’s services, all of which are provided without charge. In 2011, almost 4,000 people attended programs, up 133 percent from 2006. There were more than 18,000 visits to the library -- up 53 percent -- and patrons borrowed 34,971 books and DVDs, an increase of 27 percent. In addition to its regular educational and electronic information services, the library offered 284 programs in the past year.

Finally, like all public librar ies, the New Lebanon Library exists solely to serve the public. The trustees encourage members of the community to bring questions and concerns about the library directly to us.


New Lebanon, N.Y.

The author is the president of the New Lebanon Library.


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