Committee on
Libraries and
Education Technology

Sandy Galef - Chair
Sheldon Silver - Speaker

December 15, 2005

The Honorable Sheldon Silver
Speaker of the Assembly
State Capitol, Room 346
Albany, NY 12248

Dear Speaker Silver:

I am honored to present to you the Annual Report for the Standing Committee on Libraries and Education Technology for the 2005 legislative session. My third session as Chair of the Committee saw the continuation and expansion of some of the programs and events that took place during the first two years, such as the second annual "Library Day" on the floor of the Assembly during National Library Week. I look forward to working with you and the rest of my colleagues to continue providing much needed support and assistance to New York’s Library community.

Libraries have played an important role in my life for many years now, both personally and professionally. As a teacher, I saw first hand the impact that a strong school library plays in the overall educational experience of students. Later, as a trustee of my public library I saw the important role that public libraries play in the continuing education and cultural development of New York’s communities.

The Assembly Majority and the Committee on Libraries and Education Technology have a history of working to bring additional resources to the libraries of New York State. Since the enactment of Chapter 917 of the laws of 1990, which provided libraries with a regular and steady funding formula, the scope of services that libraries provide to the public expanded with the changing technologies. Unfortunately, the funding provided to libraries under that formula has not grown at a comparable rate. There are a range of services, including internet access, computerized cataloging, database access, and staff with the skills to support these services, that are now a necessary part of running a library. The Assembly Majority has made it a priority to propose increased funding to help libraries meet these needs.

As a participant in this year’s joint conference committee on education, I was very excited to be an active part of the budget process, ensuring the restoration of the 5% cut in library funding that the Governor proposed again this year. I look forward to the upcoming session in the hope that this will be the year that the Legislature will be able to focus on increasing library funding rather than restorations.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Committee, as well as all of the members of the Assembly, for their commitment and dedication to the work of the Committee. I would also like to thank you for your unwavering support of this Committee’s important issues.

Sandy Galef
Member of Assembly



Sandy Galef, Chair

Committee Members

Susan V. John
Joan L. Millman
Joseph D. Morelle
David Koon
Michael A. Benjamin
Barbara M. Clark
Donna Lupardo
Donna Ferrara
     Ranking Minority Member
Thomas O’Mara
     Ranking Minority Member

Sabrina M. Ty, Principal Legislative Coordinator
Julie M. Marlette, Legislative Analyst
Rebecca Southard-Kreiger, Committee Clerk
Laura Inglis, Program and Counsel Executive Secretary










The Libraries and Education Technology Committee has jurisdiction over legislation introduced concerning the many issues affecting public, academic, school and private libraries. The Committee, created in 1997 under the leadership of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, handles legislation affecting the administration and funding of libraries and library systems across New York State. The Committee develops and reviews legislation which enables New York’s libraries to meet the challenges of the information age. Today’s explosion in information technology has placed new demands on libraries. As libraries are called upon to play an expanding role in educating New Yorkers, it is imperative that they receive the attention and support they require to meet these new challenges. The work done by the Committee assists libraries in sustaining the infrastructure and staff resources necessary to allow all New Yorkers access to technological advances available through New York’s vast library community.

Libraries play an important role in the educational and cultural development of all of New Yorkers. Through a wealth of electronic and print media, New York’s libraries provide individuals and communities with exposure to information that broadens their intellectual and cultural experiences. New York State has over 7,000 libraries which serve our citizens in many capacities. Many of these institutions are among the largest and the best in the United States. Of the forty largest libraries in the United States, six are located in New York, more than in any other state. New York’s largest library, the New York Public Library, contains over ten million volumes and is among the top research institutions in the world. New York’s libraries provide support for students, teachers, researchers, readers, job seekers, entrepreneurs and many others who need assistance in finding and using information.


The libraries of New York State work hard to meet the needs of the populations that they serve. However, those needs may vary widely, even within one district. Public, academic and school libraries cannot serve their patrons without an adequate and reliable source of funding. The New York State Assembly has long supported libraries and the educational, cultural and economic roles they play in their communities. The Assembly Majority is committed to providing libraries with the resources to meet the needs of all our state’s citizens. Providing these resources requires a well-focused policy commitment as well as significant state financial support.

The Assembly has made increased funding for New York’s libraries a priority. To meet the funding needs of New York libraries, Chapter 917 of 1990 was enacted, establishing an appropriation which was designed to provide sufficient funding for both library systems and individual libraries. Unfortunately, as a result of the Governor’s repeated proposed cuts to library funding, many of the Assembly’s efforts have been devoted to restoring and maintaining funding levels rather than increases in funding in recent years. As a result, there had been 8 years of flat funding followed by a 5% cut in the FY 2004-05 budget. This year the Governor proposed only $84.4 million in State aid to libraries and library systems in his budget, a funding level which would have kept library aid flat to FY 2004-05 levels. After a series of joint conference committees, the 2005-2006 final budget provided $88.9 million in funds for Chapter 917 programs, which is a restoration of the Governor’s proposed cuts and brought funding back to FY 2003-04 levels. In addition to once again restoring a budget cut that would be devastating to New York’s libraries and library systems, the Assembly advanced a number of initiatives to provide new resources to libraries and library systems.

Library Scholarships Fund

A.1739-A, Galef; Governor’s Veto Memo # 93. This bill would create a scholarship fund of $250,000 to provide up to 50 scholarships for individuals who are in programs to receive a Masters of Arts in Library Science. Recipients of these scholarships would then be required to provide library related services in New York State for a minimum of 4 years after the completion of their degree. The Governor vetoed this legislation stating that while this idea was a laudable goal, it was a fiscal matter and should only be addressed in the context of the budget.

Maintenance of Effort Waivers

A.6481-A, Galef; Chapter 661 of the Laws of 2005. This bill would extend until 2010 the authority of the Commissioner of Education to grant waivers to public library systems which fail to maintain local support due to financial hardship. Under existing law, any public library system or participating library whose local support drops below 95% of the support provided in the previous fiscal year faces a 25% cut in state aid. In some instances however, the drop in support is justifiable because of specific financial hardship that the locality is experiencing. This bill continues the Commissioner of Education’s authority to give the locality up to two consecutive years to address their financial problems and restore their library’s local funding level.

Friends of Libraries Week

A.1247 Dinowitz This bill would create an annual "Friends of Libraries Week" designed to highlight the significant contributions made by Friends of Libraries organizations throughout the State. This bill passed the Assembly but died in the Senate.

Revolving Loan Fund

A. 3498-A, Pretlow This legislation would create a revolving loan fund for libraries, enabling them to fund needed capital construction projects. Loans would be awarded to eligible libraries and be repaid at low interest rates. Eligible projects would include expanding space for library services and increasing access for the disabled. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate.

Aid to Merged Library Systems

A. 3499, Pretlow This bill would provide supplemental financial assistance to library systems which merge. Currently, library systems which merge receive less state aid as a new, single system than the individual systems would have received. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate.

Maintaining Stable Funding for Libraries

A.7507, Bing This bill would protect the funding for libraries in areas which lost population between the 1990 and the 2000 census. State library funding is based on both the size of the geographic area and the population that the library is expected to serve. Therefore, many of the areas that have experienced a decrease in population are also the areas that would feel the greatest impact from a decrease in State funding. This proposal would ensure that all libraries receive at least as much funding as they did the previous year. This bill passed the Assembly but died in the Senate.

Establishing State Funding for Online Research

A.8202, Lavine This bill would provide annual state funding for the establishment and implementation of a New York Online Virtual Electronic Library (NOVEL). This funding would be distributed to the State library for the administration of this program as well as to public library systems, reference and research library resource systems, and school library systems to provide electronic library research services. This bill was reported to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

Increasing Funding for Capital Construction

A. 8204, Lupardo This bill would increase the amount of annual state funding available for capital construction in public libraries and public library systems from the $800,000 currently available to $10 million This bill would also increase the reporting requirements to the Governor and Legislature regarding the use and distribution of this state aid. This bill was reported to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

Increasing Funding for Library Services for the Visually and Physically Disabled

A. 8207 Millman This bill would increase the amount of annual state funding available for library services for the visually and physically disabled by increasing the funding for the New York State Library for the Blind and the Andrew Heiskell Talking Book and Braille Library. In addition to these increases, a direct funding stream was created for the Long Island Library for the Blind. These facilities provide library services to New York State residents who would be otherwise unable to read due to visual and other physical disabilities. This bill was reported to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

Establishing a Need-Based Grant Program

A. 8328 Galef This bill would authorize the Commissioner of Education to establish a program of need-based grants for libraries whose chartered service areas are determined to be economically disadvantaged and in need of additional operating aid. These grants are intended to provide libraries with additional operating aid to help them meet service standards. Libraries would be eligible to receive aid equivalent to the amount necessary to raise the spending per capita in a library’s service area to $20 per capita. This bill was reported to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee


New Yorkers are blessed with one of the richest assortment of library resources in the nation. Even when resources are sometimes limited, New York maintains hundreds of chartered public or association libraries, 23 public library systems, 9 reference and research library systems and numerous specialized libraries. In addition, 42 school library systems serve the over 1400 school libraries located in elementary and secondary schools. From the New York Public Library, nationally recognized as one of the top research libraries in the world, to the smallest community-based book exchange, libraries play an important role in the lives of New Yorkers. The Assembly Libraries and Education Technology Committee considered a variety of legislation designed to expand and improve libraries throughout New York State.

A.  Creating Library Funding Districts

A.8043-A, Parment; Chapter 418 of the Laws of 2005 This law authorizes a referendum creating the James Prendergast Library District and establishes election and governance procedures for the district.

A.8116-A, O’Mara; Chapter 380 of the Laws of 2005 This law authorizes a referendum creating the Chemung County Library District and establishes election and governance procedures for the district.

B.   Providing Dormitory Authority Assistance

A.6435, Nesbitt; Chapter 203 of the Laws of 2005 This law will allow the Swan Library to seek financing and construction assistance from the State Dormitory Authority.

A. 7465, McEneny; Chapter 755 of the Laws of 2005 This bill would allow the Albany Public Library to seek financing and construction assistance from the State Dormitory Authority.


Statewide Library Construction
December 6, 2005, Albany, New York

This year, the Assembly adopted new rules requiring that each standing committee hold a minimum of one hearing each year after the adoption of the state budget. The purpose of these hearings is to examine the impact of the budget as implemented by a state agency or agencies under the Committee’s jurisdiction. The Libraries and Education Technology Committee focused their hearing on the topic of state funding for library construction. Under current law, only $800,000 annually is appropriated for Library construction grants.

Testimony regarding the need for construction funding, the advanced age of many library buildings and the impact that such age has on a libraries ability to adapt to new technology was presented by Commissioner of Education Richard P. Mills, who recommended increasing the amount of state money for construction grants to $30 million annually as proposed in the State Education Department’s New Century Libraries plan. Jennifer Morris, President of the New York Library Association (NYLA) urged the Committee to advance bills that would allow for all libraries who are NYLA members to have access to Dormitory Authority funding and encouraged the Committee to support a $500 million bond act for library construction. Representatives from libraries around the State, from the New York Public Library to the Canton Public Library which serves a rural upstate community, advocates spoke throughout the day of the need for more state money for library construction.


In the 2006 legislative session, the committee’s top priority will remain increasing funding to libraries and library systems across New York State. With each year that funding remains flat, libraries and library systems lose valuable buying power and the ability to expand and respond to their community’s growing needs. In addition, with each year that libraries and library systems remain funded at 1990 census levels there is a loss in federal funding, due to population discrepancies and the way in which the federal government is funding programs under the 2000 census figures. The Committee’s goals for the 2006 session will include addressing these funding problems, working to infuse more funding into existing projects such as the New York Online Virtual Electronic Library (NOVEL), and the Talking Book and Braille Library, as well as increasing funding for capital construction.



Bills Reported With or Without Amendment      
To Floor; not returning to Committee
1 0 1
To Floor; Recommitted and Died 0 0 0
To Ways and Means Committee 14 0 14
To Codes Committee 1 0 1
To Rules Committee 0 0 0
To Judiciary Committee 0 0 0
Total 16 0 16
Bills Having Committee Reference Changed
Total 0 0 0
Senate Bills Substituted or Recalled
Substituted 0 0
Recalled 1 1
Total 1 1
Bills Defeated in Committee 0 0 0
Bills Never Reported, Held in Committee 17 2 17
Bills Never Reported, Died in Committee 0 0 0
Bills Having Enacting Clause Stricken 1 1 1
Motion to Discharge Lost 0 0 0

Bill Number/Sponsor Chapter Number Description
A.6435, Nesbitt 203 Includes Swan Library on the Dormitory Authority’s list of libraries eligible for construction and financing assistance.
A.6481-A, Galef 661 Extends waiver allowing state aid in certain circumstances from Jan. 1, 2006 to Jan. 1, 2011.
A.7465, McEneny 755 Includes Albany Public Library on the Dormitory Authority’s list of libraries eligible for construction and financing assistance.
A.8043-A, Parment 418 Creates the James Prendergast Public Library District.
A.8116-A, O’Mara 380 Creates the Chemung County Public Library District.

Bill Number/Sponsor Veto Memo Description
A.1739-A, Galef 93 Establishes a maximum of 50 library science scholarships to M.A. library science candidates who work 4 years of library related service in New York State.
A.8758, Thiele 33 Eliminates the need for a special permit for expansion of all existing free association libraries in Suffolk County which meet certain conditions.