January 19, 2021

State Budget Update

Earlier today, Governor Cuomo held a press conference for the FY 2022 Budget Plan that is due on April 1, 2022. The biggest discussion point continues to be the impacts of a state bailout from the Federal Government. The Governor has two scenarios based on the amount our state could receive from the $350 billion President-Elect Joe Biden is planning for COVID relief.

The first scenario is that New York receives $6 billion which would not cover the $15 billion shortfall that our state is currently facing. Among all the other cuts it appears that State Aid to libraries would go from $91.6 million to $87 million. This is unfortunate, but from an optimistic view, it's better than a 20% cut.

Reduce Funding for Library Aid. The Executive Budget reduces FY2022 funding for Library Aid by 5 percent, from $91.6 million to $87 million. This funding provides operating support to public libraries, library systems, and reference and research libraries. Although reduced, FY2022 State support is $8 million greater than funding in FY2012 when the State was recovering from the Great Recession. These spending reductions may be restored if the State receives requested Federal COVID relief funds. Source: FY 2022 Executive Budget Briefing Book

The second scenario is that New York receives $15 billion which would cover a majority of the budget gap. This would most likely result in library funding that matched FY 2019 and/or FY 2020. That would mean flat funding, but again, better than a significant cut.

There are so many other estimates that we could come up with based on today's press conference, however, the information above seems to be the best that we can go off of for the time being.

For new directors, State Aid refers primarily to the funding we receive at the System level which pays for System services.

Vaccine Update

Over the weekend I read an article that discussed how we are 'Underselling the Vaccine' by talking about the negative implications rather than celebrating the impressive accomplishments this vaccine has brought. There is bound to be an incredible amount of information that comes out as more people become inoculated, but the article gave me a bit of optimism. Here are some quotes that I thought were good…

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines — the only two approved in the U.S. — are among the best vaccines ever created, with effectiveness rates of about 95 percent after two doses. That’s on par with the vaccines for chickenpox and measles. And a vaccine doesn’t even need to be so effective to reduce cases sharply and crush a pandemic.

Although no rigorous study has yet analyzed whether vaccinated people can spread the virus, it would be surprising if they did. “If there is an example of a vaccine in widespread clinical use that has this selective effect — prevents disease but not infection — I can’t think of one!” Dr. Paul Sax of Harvard has written in The New England Journal of Medicine. (And, no, exclamation points are not common in medical journals.) On Twitter, Dr. Monica Gandhi of the University of California, San Francisco, argued: “Please be assured that YOU ARE SAFE after vaccine from what matters — disease and spreading.”

[Talking about how we should communicate about the vaccine and protective measures] We should immediately be more aggressive about mask-wearing and social distancing because of the new virus variants. We should vaccinate people as rapidly as possible — which will require approving other Covid vaccines when the data justifies it.

People who have received both of their vaccine shots, and have waited until they take effect, will be able to do things that unvaccinated people cannot — like having meals together and hugging their grandchildren. But until the pandemic is defeated, all Americans should wear masks in public, help unvaccinated people stay safe and contribute to a shared national project of saving every possible life.

I thought this was a bit uplifting considering there has been a lot of criticism coming out against the vaccine recently.

All quotes are from the January 18, 2021 New York Times briefing by David Leonhardt.

Delivery Updates from Suzanne

  • As mentioned at Friday's System Meeting, the collapsible blue totes were distributed to libraries several years ago for overflow of outbound Delivery items. If you need to keep a couple for this purpose, please do. However, if you have an excess of blue totes or if your library is using these blue totes for things other than Delivery (storing craft items, etc), please send them back to PLSHQ. It would be helpful to have as many as possible available to the drivers.
  • We would like to compile a list of primary and, if applicable to your library, secondary contacts for Delivery in case of an emergency after hours. This list would only be used in case of an emergency and by the Deputy Director and Drivers; it will not be widely distributed. Please click here to access and complete this form by Friday, January 22.

System Meeting Recap from Suzanne

The System Meeting Index has been updated with this morning's PLS Announcements and the Presenters' Slides as well as some additional resources and links.

If you attended the CE portion of the System Meeting, you should have received a CE Certificate this afternoon. If you did not get this certificate, please let me know.

Our next System Meeting will be Friday, February 19. Click here for more information and to register.

Rerun: Update to COVID-related Policies and Procedures

Because of the fluid nature of COVID-19 (how it is transmitted, how long the incubation period is, quarantining and testing requirements, etc), we have updated the policies that were part of the original Reopening Toolkit. These policies have been written into procedure. This was designed to give Directors more authority, as assigned by the Board of Trustees, to update practices related to COVID-19 as information from the CDC and NYS Department of Health changes. Directors would be able to keep their library compliance with government mandates and guidance without having to wait for the next Board meeting.

Click here to view the updated toolkit with the new procedures and an updated Daily Health Screening form.

Additionally, we have drafted language your Board could use to make a motion to remove the previously adopted policies and transition to procedural-based strategy when addressing COVID-19 in the library:

The Board of Trustees moves to update the library's strategy in responding to COVID-19 by removing the following policies and transitioning them to internal procedures.
  • Contact Tracing Policy
  • Employee Health Screening Policy
  • Personal Protective Equipment Policy

Furthermore, the Board of Trustees moves to task the library Director to develop and implement said procedures that meet the criteria and mandates as outlined by NY Forward to operate safely and legally and in accordance with all Executive Orders, Federal, State, and Local laws as they relate to COVID-19. The Director will be responsible for adjusting those procedures as needed to keep the library in compliance with all of the preceding authorities.

This Briefing Has Been Sent To…

Directors, PLSHQ Staff, and the PLS Board President. As always, feel free to share this with your board if that would be helpful.
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