The Finger Lakes Library System (FLLS) and its 33 member libraries in Cayuga, Cortland, Seneca, Tioga and Tompkins County stand to lose 4.3 percent of library aid under Governor Cuomo’s proposed 2017-2018 budgets. The Governor also eliminated $136,080 local libraries receive in construction aid to do much needed renovations or expansions to aging library buildings.
While all 33 libraries will see funding cuts unless library aid is restored, the biggest cut will be sustained by the Finger Lakes Library System. The System helps local libraries better serve their communities through cooperation, sharing resources, and by offering cost-effective services. For example, in 2016, Finger Lakes Library system sent and received 391,564 items for interlibrary loan, helping smaller libraries offer more collections to their patrons. 57,063 eBooks and 36,094 eAudiobooks were downloaded throughout its five counties and FLLS was able to offer a new streaming service, hoopla, that added streaming music and movies for free downloads.
Finger Lakes Library System staff answered 3, 603 requests for information and assistance from our libraries, on topics such as space planning, funding help, collection development help, trustee training, continuing education, and personnel help. In September FLLS launched our One Card, Many Libraries service, which allows patrons from all five counties to use their current library cards to borrow materials from any of the Finger Lakes Library System’s 33 member libraries. By allowing patrons to access each of its libraries with one card, the libraries are more welcoming and convenient.
We all know that libraries enrich the quality of life in our communities. Libraries provide access to resources and technology to all and help close the gap between the rich and the poor. Libraries help build communities by offering a community gathering space for people to share ideas, engage in discussions, and experiment in new technology and media. FLLS also enriches all of our member libraries. Due to the partnership of FLLS and its 33 member libraries, it helps provide access to new technology, shared resources like delivery of materials, and consultation services to make our libraries stronger. Its shared services help save our libraries thousands of dollars and give our libraries a chance to offer patrons more services and options.
FLLS libraries are being used more than ever these days. From summer reading programs, to STEM workshops for both children and adults, people are turning to their local libraries for both educational and recreational needs. These libraries are providing vital research access to students of all levels and library staff are being called to help evaluate news sources more than ever this year. In times of confusion and uncertainty, libraries provide a safe space for all community members.
Any cuts to library funding would be catastrophic to not only the Finger Lakes Library System, but to all of its member libraries and their patrons. When schools close at the end of the day, week, or school year, libraries remain open to children and their families. Libraries are often the source for free tutoring and homework help after school. Member libraries provide their patrons the opportunity for free, lifelong learning for adults and access to community lectures, programs, and conversations. Finger Lakes has a record number of libraries applying for construction aid grants, and with our aging library buildings, many can no longer meet the needs of their communities. Local libraries need more meeting and programming spaces and need to be able to accommodate new technology needs.
On Wednesday, March 1, 45 library directors, staff, trustees and patrons from Cayuga, Cortland, Seneca, Tioga and Tompkins County attended Advocacy Day in Albany through the Finger Lakes Library System to ask our elected officials to restore library aid.