Monday, November 24, 2008

For New Yorkers: Informal notes from the Nov. 21 Regents Advisory Council on Libraries meeting

On Nov. 21, the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries meet in New York City. We had a very lively discussion, due to the changes that are occurring to the State budget and its impact on libraries. These are my informal notes from the meeting from both the orientation session for new members to the Council, which I sat in on it again, and the meeting itself. I'm sorry that these notes are a bit staccato, but that is the impact our discussion, where much information was brought in and exchanged. I've tried to group information together, which means that the topics are not covered in the same order as our meeting.

Budget Information:

The income for the State Library comes from three sources:

64% from document transfer fees paid within NYS
35% from LSTA funds
1% from other (e.g., grants)
Monies from document transfer fees are decreasing. It is hoped that the legislature will increase the amount per transfer, in order to keep this income stream going. An example of the fees are those paid when a house is purchased to transfer documents (like land titles). The fee is currently $15.

Money coming from the federal government via LSTA is decreasing because it is based on population and the population of NYS is decreasing.

Therefore, two of the income streams that fund the State Library are decreasing, leaving the State Library in a precarious position.

The Stated Education Department is not a government department. It is run by the Regents.

Some libraries in NYS are on the verge of failing. At least one library has had to re-mortgage its building in order to meet current expenses, due to budget cuts.

The cuts enacted by the State are effecting libraries and library systems unequally. A system may have already advance money to member libraries in anticipation of receiving money from the State. So its members may be nearly fully funded, but the system itself may be feeling a 20% - 40+% decrease in funding.

Libraries tend to be on a calendar year fiscally, rather than the fiscal year used by the State. (I believe school libraries are on a different fiscal year, too.) So there are overlapping budget years, which is leading to confusion.

Many unintended consequences from the Governor's actions. It is unclear what additional monies from the State may be released and when.

NOVELny costs $2.8 million, which is currently being paid through LSTA funding. BTW the web site is currently being re-designed.

State law Chapter 414 deals with library funding. (Can't find a URL...)

Libraries are like "anchor stores" in a community.

Library Leadership:

We talked about Bernie Margolis, the incoming State Librarian. He is being charged with leading New York State libraries firmly into the 21st Century and placing NYS in a leadership role when it comes to libraries.

Jeff Cannell noted that there was a diverse candidate pool for the position of State Librarian and that Margolis was clearly the best candidate. The group then discussed the future of library leaders. Several noted that the candidate pools for positions seem to be getting smaller. From the discussion, the group said that in order to have a good candidate pool for library leadership positions in the future:
  • Possible future library leaders need to be given leadership experience.
  • Possible future library leaders need to stay in the library profession, rather than moving to other professions.
  • Civil service issues need to be addressed.
  • Current library leaders need to not stay in their jobs too long. If a leader stays in place for many, many years (decades even), those who could succeed may decide to do something else.

State law 90.18:

State law 90.18, which deals with school library systems is being changed in order to:
  • Remove outdated language
  • Clarify text
  • Bring up-to-date with other regulations

Trustee Training:

There was much discussion about the need for library trustee training
. It is hoped that the State -- at some point -- will make trustee training mandatory (similar to school board training).


In 2009, the State will celebrate three anniversaries
  • 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson exploring this region for the Dutch (New Amsterdam).
  • 400th anniversary of the northern region by the French (Samuel de Champlain).
  • 200th anniversary of Robert Fulton’s successful steamboat voyage.
The State Library -- along with the State Archives and State Museum -- will be participating in activities to educate people about this part of our history and to promote these important events. Mentioned during the discussion was the New Netherland Project, which is making original documents more widely available.


  • There is a new Statewide New York State Performers & Programs Database, which libraries can use,
  • The Gates Foundation is working on another grant program and NYS is part of the pilot. The program is to build computing infrastructure for libraries.
  • The New York State Library is participating in the Persistent Digital Archives and Library System (PeDALS) project, which is being funded by NDIIPP.
  • There is a web site geared towards people that might be interested in a career working in a library in NYS. The site is
  • The State Library has been experimenting with resident borrowing. It hopes that a new regulation will be adopted to extend borrowing privileges to all NYS residents.
  • The 2008 annual report for the NYS Research Library is online.

2009 Meeting Schedule:

Our 2009 meeting schedule is:
  • Friday, Jan. 30 - conference call
  • Feb. 24 - legislative visits in Albany
  • April 20 or 21 - Regents Meeting, Albany
  • Sept. 25 - meeting, NYC
  • Dec. 4 - meeting, NYC
During our conference call in January, we will begin to work on our report for the Regents. At this meeting (11/21) we began some discussion about this, with the idea of perhaps emphasizing areas of concern that can be addressed without impacting the budget.

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