As Cuts Loom, SLC Libraries Push Back

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In 1994, almost no one had cell phones, there were no flat screen tvs, and Windows 3.1 was what most computers ran on.

And, says Gouverneur public library director Linda Adams, the library budget was pretty much the same as it is today.

"Libraries are operating on the same budget we had in 1994," Adams told 7 News reporter John Friot.

Adams is one of the library directors worried about a proposal in county administrator Karen St. Hilaire budget for 2013, one that cuts county aid to libraries all the way back to zero.

It's already declining, from a total of $122,000 for the county's libraries two years ago, to a total of $99,000 last year.

The county legislature is expected to consider library cuts next week.

The county is faced with a 19 percent tax increase if it doesn't shave several million dollars off the budget.

As it turns out, the county's contribution is significant: in Gouverneur's case, the county contributed $8400 in 2011, with the Town of Gouverneur chipping in $9000, the village $6000 and the Town of Fowler $1400. Generally, the rest of a library's money comes from state aid and grants, and - in some cases - money raised through a special library fund voted on with a community's school budget each year .

The cuts may be unavoidable, said fifth district legislator Don Peck.

"In these economic times, the libraries in St. Lawrence County have the option of going to the voters and having it put on the school tax bill."

Adams points out that libraries serve an increasingly important role as providers of technology.

"Many of the users have pointed out that were it not for the computers they use here, they would have no computer or internet access," she said.

"As a rural library in a low income area, that access is vital."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gouverneur Library Director Linda Adams says a continual erosion of county funding makes it a struggle for libraries to provide basic services patrons have come to expect:
 
                                                             LINDA ADAMS SOT
 
Libraries like Gouverneur's have become easy targets for county budget cuts over the years. At one point two years ago...St. Lawrence County libraries were collectively being given $122,000 in funding...that number was cut to $99,000 in last year's budget crunch.
 
                                                              LINDA ADAMS SOT
 
                                                            STAND UP (Faced with a nearly 20 percent tax increase, county legislators are now looking to cut all funding for local libraries next year.)
 
                                                             DON PECK SOT
 
Gouverneur's library received more than $8,400 in county funding in 2011 and$7,600 this year while demand for services is growing as are visitors to the library and computer users.
 
                                                              LINDA ADAMS SOT
 
County funding cuts also have an impact on what the state allocates for library services. As far as the Gouverneur Library goes...the impact of the budget cuts won't be felt through cut staff or reduced hours...but in book purchases and other yet to be determined areas.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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