When I step into the polling booth this coming Election Day, before continuing down the ballot to make my candidate selections, I'll be voting “YES” on referendum number 3: Proposition 414.
A “YES” vote will ensure that our local Elting Library has the adequate funds to: preserve and increase its inventory of books and materials, continue to provide cultural and educational programs and events, increase its hours (in particular, to Sundays), provide free access to books and inter-library loans from 66 libraries across our region, and maintain staffing to do all of these things. A rejection certainly threatens the library’s ability to provide these services and might even cause it to close.
Why is the library requesting this funding? Most libraries in our region receive 90% or more of their funding from their local municipal budgets. The Town of New Paltz, for the past five years, has provided a much lower amount - 48% of Elting Library’s operating budget. A “YES” vote brings our library’s funding in line with its regional neighbors.
Since the new library building was constructed (which by the way is fully paid for), as a result of the expansion of space and services and the decline in our economy, library usage has increased tremendously. We need our library now more than ever – for children seeking books and after-school programs, for people seeking employment or better employment via available newspapers and online resources, for community organizations in need of space to hold their meetings and events, and for people seeking free educational, cultural, and intellectual resources.
Some people are concerned that the library will get this money no matter what happens in each budget cycle. But that cuts both ways, it also means they cannot receive any budget increases without coming back to the voters. Others have proposed that we take more time considering alternatives. While other models for funding libraries do exist, such as becoming a public library or creating a library district, this is the solution that our library is presenting to us now so that they can keep their doors open for the next year – and it is the right choice, right now.
If you want our library to stay open and be fully functional for the next year, then on November 3rd vote “YES” on the library referendum. Elting Library is a gem in the heart of our community. Let’s make sure it can continue to thrive.
For more info, visit the library webpage.
And of course, after voting “YES” for the library, don't forget to pull the lever for Mike Nielson for Highway Superintendent while you're in there.