The Herkimer County Legislature’s Committee on Ways and Means will meet Friday morning to begin the budget process.
“Keep the libraries and what they do in mind when you work on the budget,” Frankfort Free Library Director Christine Russell said during last week’s session of the Legislature.
Frank J. Basloe Public Library Director Leslie Paul and Linda Vincent, a member of the MidYork Library System Board of Trustees, joined Russell during last Wednesday’s quarterly session to ask the Legislature to fund the libraries at their current level.
“Every dollar is critical,” said Paul, adding for every $1 the county invested in Herkimer’s Basloe Library in 2013, the library provided $4.40 worth of programs and services to patrons. “That is a tremendous return on the county’s investment.”
Russell said the Frankfort Free Library received $4,100 in funding from the county this year, while Paul said Basloe Library received $8,700 in county funding in 2013.
“We have a building to repair and to maintain, as well as bills that continue to go up and never seem to go down,” said Russell. “Libraries are no different than other entities.”
Vincent said 41,915 Herkimer County residents are registered library cardholders.
“Our budgets are no frill budgets,” she said. “It would be difficult for us to find areas in our budgets to cut without hurting the services or programs we provide.”
Paul said the money the libraries receive from the county is used to purchase books, media and supplies. Russell added the county’s contribution to their budgets fund programs like story hours, author talks, book signings and movie nights.
Vincent said an important service libraries offer to their communities is Internet access.
“Not everyone in our communities have access to a computer or the Internet, so they rely on the library for their computing needs,” she said. “Not only do libraries provide computers and Internet access, but our staff teach patrons how to use them and assist them with their searches. Libraries provide all this service for free.”
Vincent closed their presentation with a quote from Anne Herbert, “Libraries will get you through times of no money better than no money will get you through times of no libraries.” “That quote is still true today,” she said. “I ask that our funding remain intact.”
Legislature Chairman Vincent Bono said the Legislature has not talked about cutting funding to libraries as the Ways and Means Committee begins the budget process.
Friday morning’s meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Legislature Chambers of the county office building at 109 Mary St., Herkimer.
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