State lawmakers are calling for restoration of funding for capital projects for libraries in New York after Gov. Kathy Hochul's proposed budget backed a $20 million reduction.
The lawmakers, Sen. Sean Ryan and Assemblymember Kimberly Jean-Pierre, are also calling for a restoration of $7.1 million in library aid in addition to the construction money.
Capital projects aid to libraries can help support maintenance, renovation and the expansion of existing facilities, as well as new construction of public libraries in New York.
The money can also be used to focus on digital inequality concerns in communities across the state. Ryan, a Democrat from Buffalo, pointed to the role libraries played during the COVID pandemic.
"Their role of keeping people connected has been a lifeline for many New Yorkers and highlighted just how vital libraries are to their communities," Ryan said. "It is imperative that we fund our local libraries in a way that allows them to build for the future and continue to provide a wide range of essential services to the public.”
The legislators last year backed the passage of a new law that is meant to expand how smaller libraries and those in rural areas can obtain funding.
“From Buffalo to Long Island and in every corner of New York State, our public libraries have gone above and beyond to provide essential services to our local communities, especially over the last two years amidst some of the most challenging times we have ever faced," Jean-Pierre said. "Our libraries always step up for us, and it is time for our state to step up for libraries; we must reject any proposed funding cuts, increase library aid and expand the resources needed to allow these critical entities to continue serving the millions of New Yorkers who depend on them for things like reading materials, internet access, employment resources and so much more."