Libraries make funding pitch to County Legislature

Photos by Tom Rivers: Emily Cebula, third from left, speaks to the Orleans County Legislature during Wednesday Legislature meeting. Cebula is director of the Yates Community Library in Lyndonville. Local library leaders urged county legislators to keep the four public libraries in the county budget. She is joined by Kristine Mostyn of Lee-Whedon Library in Medina (left), Sandra Shaw of Community Free Library in Holley, and Tom Bindeman, director of the Nioga Library System. Betty Sue Miller of Hoag Library in Albion joined the meeting through Zoom video conferencing.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 October 2022 at 10:14 am

ALBION – The four public libraries in Orleans County are asking county legislators to keep the libraries in the county budget and to boost the funding amount.

The libraries would like to collectively receive $1 per resident or $40,343. The budget for 2022 included $10,087 that was split up among the libraries in Albion, Holley, Lyndonville and Medina.

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 Genesee County, the county contribution is close to $1 per person. The county with a population of 58,388 allocated $53,680 to its public libraries in 2022. That amount was increased from $41,680 in 2021.

Directors from the four public libraries in Orleans each shared brief ways the libraries are assisting the community, outside of loaning books and videos.

Yates Community Library recently printed a 75-page driver’s manual to help a teen-ager prepare for her driver’s test. That manual is now part of the library collection, said Emily Cebula, director of library.

Kristine Mostyn, director of the Lee-Whedon Memorial Library in Medina, noted that Lee-Whedon and the other libraries also offer free use of the internet and computers. Lee-Whedon has people come in to use the internet for job interviews through Zoom video conferencing.

Sandra Shaw, director of Community Free Library in Holley, said the Holley staff help residents connect to local services.

“People come in and they need help and they need it now,” she said. “We help them get on with their daily lives and keep their dignity.”

At Hoag Library, director Betty Sue Miller said the staff also is trained as notaries and notarizes several items a day. The library also has classrooms for ESL. It loans out htspots for people to have internet access off site. Hoag offers 30-minute tech classes twice a day in the afternoons.

“Our libraries are constantly evolving as we hear the needs of the community,” Miller said.

Tom Bindeman, director fo the three-county Nioga Library System, said more than 200,000 items were shared last year through the inter-library loan system at Nioga.

“Our goal is to keep things moving,” he said.

Bindeman praised the staffs of the libraries in Orleans, Genesee and Niagara counties. Many operate with only a few employees who make close to minimum wage.

The public libraries have proven their dedication to their communities, especially during the Covid pandemic, Bindeman said.

“We’re proud of what we do,” he said. “We serve everybody regardless of economic backgrounds.”

This sign is on the back of Community Free Library in Holley. It was added about two years ago. All of the four libraries in Orleans County have recently completed capital projects.