News from the NYS Assembly
Committee on Libraries and
Education Technology

Sheldon Silver, Speaker • Sandy Galef, Chair • December 2005

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef
A Message from the Chair

At the end of my third year as Chair of the Libraries and Education Technology Committee, I am happy to report that we have again had a very exciting and productive year.

First of all, during the development of the budget, I was thrilled to be appointed to serve as an alternate on the Subcommittee on Education in the joint-conference committee process. These negotiations led to the first on-time budget for the State of New York in 21 years. An on-time budget has a direct impact on libraries and library systems, because as many of you are aware, budget extenders do not always provide for a continuation of library funding, and libraries and library systems can find themselves waiting months past the start of the fiscal year to receive any state aid.

Not only was the budget enacted on time this year, but it included a 5% increase over the Governor’s proposed budget, thereby restoring last year’s 5% cut. In addition to the legislative restoration of $4.5 million, the Assembly was able to restore $338,000 to the New York Public Library as well as add $100,000 for library services for the blind.

In addition to the budget developments, libraries had a productive legislative session as well. We authorized referendums to create two new library districts and additional libraries were given access to Dormitory Authority financing for construction. The legislature also authorized a program to create a scholarship fund for individuals becoming educated to become librarians who agree to serve in New York State libraries and library systems. Unfortunately, this bill was vetoed by the Governor, who argued in his veto message that this issue would be better addressed in the context of the budget. I hope that all of you will join me in encouraging the Governor to include this important program in his budget proposal in January.

After the budget and away from session, in my home district of Ossining in Westchester County, I was happy to be able to attend the groundbreaking of our new public library building. Not only was it exciting to participate personally in the referendum to approve the new building, it was a very educational process. Now, I know more about the referendum process and I have also learned about many of the energy saving, environmentally friendly steps that can be taken to reduce energy use and therefore save money for the library and its supporters.

Ossining has committed to a “green” building, employing four key environmentally sound aspects to the building’s design and maintenance plan:

  • Geothermal Energy: This is a system of heating and cooling a building using the earth’s temperature and can be achieved by employing a number of different technologies. By pursuing this route, the new building will not need an independent source of either oil or natural gas;

  • Sustainable Gardening: Only plants that are native to the area, and that are pest and drought resistant, will be used around the library;

  • The Commissioning Process: This process is a long-term maintenance commitment that is in place to ensure that environmental goals are met by having future work and contracts be evaluated by an environmental consultant;

  • Application for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification: The LEED program created by the U.S. Green Building Council, sets a national standard for developing and maintaining energy saving and environmental conservation goals.

As libraries across the state seek to embark on new construction projects, perhaps you too can adopt an environmentally friendly or “green” approach to new construction that will not only save on energy costs but will help your community protect its environment.

As the new legislative year approaches, I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to improve and expand our libraries and library services.

Sandy Galef
Chair, Assembly Committee on Libraries
and Education Technology

2005 Legislative Highlights for Libraries

This year, the Legislature authorized a five year extension of the authority of the Commissioner of Education to issue waivers to libraries and library systems who fail to meet maintenance of effort standards for local funding if there is an adequate justification presented. These waivers, when issued, would allow libraries and library systems to continue to receive full state funding, rather than face a statutory cut (A.6481-A, Galef/Chapter 661). In addition, the Legislature authorized a bill that would create a program to award scholarships to New York State residents who agree to work at libraries in New York State after receiving their degrees, (A.1739-A, Galef/Governor’s Veto 93).

Unfortunately, this legislation was vetoed by the Governor, who indicated that he believed such a proposal should be dealt with in the context of the budget.

photo Assemblywoman Sandy Galef testing cement at the groundbreaking for the new “green” Ossining Public Library.

Assisting Local Libraries

This session saw the authorization of several bills intended to improve library services in New York State. This year, the Legislature was able to authorize referendums to create two new library districts, one in Chautauqua County (A.8043-A, Parment/Chapter 418), and in Chemung County (A.8116-A, O’Mara/Chapter 380 ). Additionally, two libraries were granted access to Dormitory Authority financing for construction projects, the Swan Library in Orleans County (A.6435, Nesbitt/Chapter 203) and the Albany Public Library, (A.7465, McEneny/Delivered to the Governor 10/28/05).

photo (Right to Left) Jennifer Morris, President-Elect of the New York Library Association (NYLA); Michael Borges, Executive Direction, NYLA; Rocco Staino, President, NYLA; Assemblywoman Sandy Galef; Senator Hugh Farley, Chair, Senate Sub-Committee on Libraries; Kathleen Miller, Chair, NYLA Legislative Committee gather after speaking at NYLA lobby day. photo Assemblywoman Sandy Galef speaks on the importance of libraries during “Library Day” in the Assembly, held during National Library Week.

“Love Your Library” License Plate Unveiled

This July, I was thrilled to participate in the unveiling of the new license plate, sales of which will support the “Love Your Library” fund. This fund is intended to provide funding for the statewide summer reading program administered by the State Education Department. Between their release in July and November 1, a total of 126 plates have been sold. Before any funds can be released for the summer reading program however, $5,000 annually must first be raised to cover the costs of administering the license plate program. These funds are generated by a $25 annual service fee charged by the Department of Motor Vehicles for having such a plate. For additional information on how to acquire these license plates, please contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles.

photo Assemblywoman Galef speaks at a press conference unveiling the new “Love Your Library” license plate.

Libraries Doing Their Part to Help the Gulf Coast

Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, almost all community services have been disrupted, including library services. In an effort to do their part, the American Library Association (ALA) is coordinating a number of efforts to help libraries in the impacted region. At this time, the ALA is soliciting cash donations which are then being passed on to the Louisiana (LLA), Mississippi (MLA) and Alabama (ALLA) Library Associations, and is directing computer donations to the Mississippi Library Commission. Unfortunately, due to the extensive damage that many buildings in this area sustained, many libraries need to address repairs, if not rebuilding, before they can focus on restocking. At this time, no book donations are being accepted by the ALA for Gulf Coast libraries, but the ALA recommends holding on to any books that libraries or individuals might want to donate, as they will surely be needed in the future.

In addition to direct solicitation efforts, the ALA is coordinating an “Adopt a Library” program, connecting libraries around the country directly with libraries in the Gulf Coast region who need assistance. Individuals or organizations who wish to donate through the ALA should visit their website at, for additional information. The LLA and the MLA have also set up dedicated hurricane relief funds to which individuals can donate directly.

Contact information for these funds is listed below:

LLA Disaster Relief Fund
Louisiana Library Association
421 South 4th Street
Eunice, LA 70535

Rebuild Mississippi Libraries Fund
c/o Amsouth Bank
210 E. Capitol Street
Jackson, MS 39201

Communicating with Local Libraries

In an effort to hear first hand what is going on in the libraries and library systems around the State, each Library Committee newsletter includes a column written by a guest who is affiliated with a different library or system. This column was submitted by Kathy Miller, Executive Director of the Rochester Regional Library System:

In a world where information is critical to our everyday lives – home, health, school, and work – New York’s libraries must work together to ensure that people have that information when and where they need it.

How is this accomplished?

SHARING: The NY3Rs are the nine regional state-funded organizations that smooth the flow of information among all libraries in the state. The NY3Rs provide the connections among public, school, academic, business, hospital, museum, law – all kinds of libraries – in New York. Libraries and researchers throughout New York State benefit from NY3Rs programs:

  • Teachers can get books and articles from college libraries to create lesson plans.

  • Health professionals can get the information needed to provide better patient care.

  • Consumers can get trustworthy reliable healthcare information to enable them to make wise health and lifestyle choices.

  • Students aren’t limited to resources in their own libraries, but have access to all libraries – worldwide, if need be.

  • Business entrepreneurs can use the research resources of New York’s universities to create new products;

  • Students learning about woman’s suffrage can access primary documents that have been digitized and put on a website.

  • Families exploring their “roots” can search digitized versions of historical newspapers.

SAVING: Not only do the NY3Rs free the flow of information, they also help libraries save money. Economic development is crucial for New York State and library systems such as the NY3Rs and are a key link in providing the information that fuels that economic development.

This cost saving through interlibrary resource sharing, reciprocal borrowing, and discounted purchases of databases, can be truly astounding. In 2004, through the NY3Rs library network:

  • Academic and special libraries loaned 409,000 books and articles to the people of New York, most of it without charge. If New Yorkers had to buy these books and articles, it would have cost more than $10 million dollars.

  • Libraries saved an additional $1.3 million on the cost of delivering these materials through regional courier services provided by NY3Rs.

  • Libraries saved more than $4.5 million on the cost of expensive online resources.

LEARNING: The NY3Rs provide ongoing professional development for the libraries greatest resource – their staffs. Each year, over 7,000 people who work in libraries attend training programs provided by the NY3Rs for free or at low cost – another savings of more than $750,000.

photo Assemblywoman Galef receives the 2005 Outstanding Advocate for Libraries Award from New York Library Association (NYLA) President Rocco Staino at the 2005 NYLA Annual Conference and Trade Show in Buffalo, New York .

photo (Left to Right) Assemblywoman Sandy Galef interviews Josh Cohen, Executive Director of the Mid-Hudson Library System and Mary Berman, Deputy Directory of the Westchester Library System regarding the role of library systems during her television show “Speak Out with Sandy Galef”.

Committee on Libraries and Education Technology
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