February 1, 2021

Winter Weather Advisory from Suzanne

Delivery delays or cancellations due to inclement weather will be communicated via email. When there is a delay/cancellation, an email will be sent to the Directors and circ email addresses for the libraries impacted.

Please be sure to keep walkways, steps, and entranceways clear of ice and snow for the Drivers.

If there are any questions, please email Suzanne.

Advocacy Update

So far it has been difficult to set up meetings with our legislators, I have been hopping on calls as they come up, but there is less of an "organized" approached this year because of COVID. All the calls to date have been set by other systems and focused on the NYS Library Operating Aid at $123.1M and NYS Library Construction Aid at $45M. As previously stated, I believe we should take a slightly softer approach this year when providing our Advocacy asks. Linked below is an advocacy piece that I plan on including in messages to each of our representatives. Directors will be copied on those messages as well.

If you have already reached out with different messaging, that's fine. This is simply an alternative approach from our System's standpoint. We can talk more about this at Friday's PLSDAC call.

Advocacy Materials Draft.pdf

You can take a look at the Monday Briefing - January 19, 2021 State Budget Update for more info. I've also added the Advocacy email sent on January 26, 2021 below.

'Finding Yes During COVID-19'

Here is your recommended reading for the day, a fantastic article about cultivating a 'culture of yes' while stuck in a global pandemic. The piece was featured in Knovvmads Magazine and written by our very own Suzanne Macaulay.

In November 2019 I presented a session at the NYLA Annual Conference titled Creating a Culture of Yes. It was a topic on which I would passionately soapbox to anyone who would politely stand and listen. One day, one of those polite standards and listeners suggested, “Why don’t you submit this as a conference proposal?” and ten(ish) months later I was in Saratoga Springs, New York with a slide deck full of memes.

A culture of yes was what I was working toward implementing as a Library Director, and the underlying premise was “Let’s stop making it hard for people to use the library.” I felt that it was important that we develop a culture, a shared passion, in our library; a workplace culture was not just for for-profits and slick startups. (Cardigans and cats are library clich├ęs, not library culture.)...click here to read the entire article.

Open Meetings Law - Online Meeting Extension

The provision allowing for online board meetings has been extended once again. The new date is February 26, 2021.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo extends suspension of in-person meeting requirement of Open Meetings Law until February 26 in Executive Order 202.92. Source: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-20292-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency

Request from NYLA Friends of Libraries Sections (FLS)

FLS is conducting an inventory of Friends groups in libraries across the state. If your library has a Friends group, please email Karen Sperrazza (krnsprrzz@gmail.com) with the following info: Library name, Friends group contact person, and their contact information (email or phone).

RERUN: Advocacy Message to Directors

Last week I provided a State Budget Update that highlighted the potential scenarios for upcoming Library and Construction Aid funding. These numbers are based on current FY 2022 figures as well as potential federal funds available to New York. This amounts to a 5% reduction in last year's proposed aid to libraries. While not great, the number is better than I expected and is a 15% increase from what we actually received. Given these numbers, as well as it being such a difficult year for all state-funded agencies (as well as the rest of the world), I have been thinking a lot about how to handle our advocacy messaging for 2021.

We generally follow NYLA's messaging each year and adjust our talking points to match their legislative asks. After reviewing their materials and reading the message that was sent yesterday that reads, "Tell Your State Representative to Oppose Governor Cuomo’s Library Cuts" (more NYLA advocacy info can be found here), I cannot consciously move their agenda forward in our region. While I understand NYLA's position and the fact that they represent every library type across New York, I am not on board with their aggressive ask in such a difficult economic year.

My concerns revolve around NYLA's priorities of $123.1M operating aid, $45M in construction aid, and their movement of opposition against the state government. More money for libraries would obviously be fantastic, especially since we have been chronically underfunded and undervalued for years. However, when considering the current economic dismay of New York this agenda seems out of touch. Not to mention the seemingly partisan position a message like this puts us in for future budget asks.

I recognize that I am far from politically savvy and that NYLA's message may be the perfect thing to say this year, but it doesn't feel right given the facts.

Instead, I am working on a simple advocacy piece that focuses on the pragmatic needs that are not only sensitive to the economy but also highlight the hard work libraries have been doing over the past 12-months. The ask will be to support the 15% restoration over last year's enacted budget (which would set us at the $87M figure) currently outlined in the FY 2022 Executive Budget Briefing Book. As this number is preliminary and not guaranteed, I believe our efforts should focus on securing those funds so we do not receive additional cuts beyond those.

Our senators and assemblymembers will already have NYLA's advocacy message, so the focus of this strategy is not meant to publically oppose NYLA, but to insert a realistic figure from the perspective of our System.

Individual libraries can of course support NYLA's call to action. Most of the state will do the same. However, at the System level, we will be carrying out the alternative message. None of this will turn the tide of the economy or have a significant impact on the budget, but it is what I believe is the right thing for us to focus on given all that has been lost over the past year.

My next step will be to send our legislative piece to our representatives. I will be sure to include directors in all those messages.

Keep in mind that these advocacy messages are primarily for funding at the System. If you have separate conversations with your Senators and Assemblymembers about local needs, that is great and should keep happening.
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