As Cuts Loom, SLC Libraries Push Back
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:
Wednesday, May 22, 2013, Watertown, NY
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