Facing massive state aid cuts in 2009 New York State Library and public library system announced last week that usage across the board was up for 2008 throughout the state.
In a recent release Jeffrey Cannell, deputy commissioner for Cultural Education and interim state librarian, said 2008 was a "year of remarkable numbers and accomplishments," despite decreased funding costs in many communities.
"Catch the Reading Bug," the 2008 Statewide Summer Reading Program, attracted more than 1.5 million young participants, a 15 percent increase over summer 2007. Cannell announced, "we met the participation goal for 2010 two years early."
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Online Opportunities Hardware Grant provided some 1,073 funded computers installed in 419 public library building in high need communities. The foundation has selected New York State as one of seven pilot states for their new Online Broadband Connectivity Initiative.
Public libraries and systems will receive $14 million in grants for 181 public library construction projects for 2008--2009.
The Board of Regents approved 55 library charters. Four new public library districts were formed and 318,588 formerly un-served New Yorkers now have a local public library.
NOVELny pilot project annual searches totaled 29.6 million, and usage continued to grow: more than 5,500 libraries are registered for NOVELny, an online electronic resource of newspaper, magazine, maps, charts, resource and reference books available free to all New York residents.
The Division of Library Development completed more than 85 site visits and oversaw a total of 997 grants to libraries and library systems and sponsored 88 education events for 2,485 people.
The State Research Library held 34 classes, 11 of which provided hands-on training. Fifteen were customized training classes for community groups and state agencies.
The State Research Library responded to nearly 21,000 interlibrary loan requests, with 155,000 pages sent electronically.