Library use has increased across the state. According to some of New York State Library’s latest statistics, visits to public libraries increased by seven million from 113 million to 120 million from 2007 to 2009. The number of items borrowed — books, ebooks, movies, magazines and more — has increased by more than 11 percent.
National Library Week is celebrated in April, from the 13th through the 19th. This year’s theme is “Lives Change @ Your Library.” The assembly commemorated the week with a resolution, which I was happy to sponsor. I’m an advocate for libraries and believe their presence is an important component to any community.
This year’s enacted state budget provided $86.6 million for libraries across the state. Thankfully, we were able to prevent cuts to libraries as the governor had proposed and instead the Legislature slightly increased funding from last year by $1 million. Libraries are an important part of both urban and rural communities and I was pleased funding was increased even if by a relatively small amount.
Historically, libraries have always been important to literacy but they are also the leading digital literacy educators in New York and are the number one point of internet access for those who do not have internet access at home. To meet the demand of New Yorkers seeking Internet access, including job seekers, libraries have responded by increasing the number of publicly-available internet-connected computers by over 28 percent, to more than 17,000 computers.
There are a number of resources available through libraries. I wanted to highlight one in particular that is provided by New York State Library called NOVELny. It’s an electronic resource access project that enables residents across New York State to have online access to the full text of journals, newspapers and other references for free. It’s funded in part from federal dollars to libraries through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) of 2013.