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Local libraries to lose state aid

"Libraries are an important component of our communities, schools and college campuses and play an important role in educating and informing citizens of all ages," Borges continued. "There seems to be no recognition by state budget makers that library usage has skyrocketed over the last year as more people turn to libraries for finding jobs, improving their literacy skills and for free reading materials and programs for their families."

Library Aid was reduced from $103 million in 2007 to $100 million in April and then reduced further to $98.5 million in August of this year. Library Aid had remained stagnant for eight years between 1998 to 2006, when the Legislature finally agreed to modest increases in funding and began utilizing the 2000 Census to calculate Library Aid, instead of the 1990 Census.

The cuts will fall heavily on the 73 library systems throughout the state that are the backbone of our libraries and information infrastructure. Library systems provide libraries with shared services, like interlibrary loans, centralized cataloging, web site hosting and staff training. The are an example of how the library community has long been a champion and role model for regional cooperation, resource sharing and providing services in a cost-effective and efficient manner that saves libraries of all types and their patron's money.

"The state is proposing to cut the very mechanisms that enable libraries to serve 75 percent of New York households in a cost-effective and efficient manner," Borges said. "On one hand, [it] is asking communities to do things collaboratively to save taxpayers money, and on the other hand, it is cutting the very means to make it happen. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever."

Tami S. Zimmerman, editor of the Eagle Bulletin and DeWitt Times, contributed to this story.

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