4 libraries seek funding increase from county
ALBION – The four public libraries in Orleans County once again are seeking a funding increase from the county to the level of $1 per person or $42,883.
The libraries in Albion (Hoag Library), Holley (Community Free Library), Lyndonville (Yates Community Library) and Medina (Lee-Whedon Memorial Library) currently share $10,087 from the county. The $10,087 has been the libraries’ funding level from the county since 2011.
Directors from the four libraries last week asked county legislators for a funding boost. Libraries could use more money to keep up with the costs of providing computer access, programs, books, magazines and other information for residents, the directors said.
The county was giving $29,914 to be shared among the four libraries as recently as 2002, but that dropped to $7,480 in 2003. Since then, the amount was raised to $12,587 in 2007, $13,617 in 2010, and then was cut to $10,087 in 2011. It hasn’t changed since then.
In addition to books, magazines and other reading resources, the libraries provide concerts, family activities, historical programs, meeting space and other programs.
“With a poverty rate in Orleans County of 15.5 percent, not every family can afford to buy books, pay for Internet access, or enroll their children in educational summer camps,” Kristine Mostyn, assistant director at Lee-Whedon, told the county officials.
She noted the recent summer reading program attracted 2,230 participants who combined read 3,604 books. She said the libraries partner with local agencies, parks programs, businesses, museums, zoos and other organizations for programs.
Betty Sue Miller, director at the Hoag Library in Albion, said the library is a critical resource for many in the community who would otherwise not have Internet access. The four libraries and others in three counties share materials as part of the NIOGA library system, Miller said.
Sandra Shaw of the Community Free Library said the local libraries “are living, breathing entities that change with time and technology.” The libraries provide basic computer training, and show patrons how to use some of the latest gadgets, from e-readers, iPads, and MP3 players.
Catherine Cooper, the Lee-Whedon director, said libraries are under constraints of the tax cap, which set a target cap of 2 percent increases annually, although it has been smaller than that in recent years because the cap is tied to inflation.
“It’s quite difficult,” Cooper said today about staying under the cap. “The amount you are allowed to raise is not very much.”
If there was an increase in county support, Cooper said libraries would likely use the funds to offer more materials and programs.
The county budget is typically adopted in late November or early December.