WNYLRC’s Legislative Breakfast Provided An Opportunity to Advocate

January 23rd, 2015

To energize our lines of communication with our legislators and to offer them the opportunity to see just a peek of what their budget votes can do for their constituencies, WNYLRC hosted a Legislative Breakfast on Friday, January 16 at WNYLRC headquarters.  A round of December invitations beckoned the Senators and Assemblypersons and/or their representatives to a short program amid breakfast and conversation.  Advocacy is what librarians speak of with frequency and this is only one in a series of attempts to acquaint our regional legislators with libraries’ activities and needs and to point out how welcome and vital regional legislative support in Albany always is.

A turnout of  legislator representatives including those for Senators Gallivan,  Ranzenhofer and Panepinto and Assemblymen Kearns, Schimminger and Ryan along with Senator Rob Ortt and Lynn Marinelli, representing Christina Orsi from the WNY Regional Economic Development Council, were afforded a program of wide-ranging initiatives which libraries, among WNYLRC members, have produced to great success for their patrons and these programs, oftentimes, have been accomplished without the greater knowledge that grant funds and funding from library  budget lines in the legislature’s purview have made possible.  With rapt attention, our legislative representatives listened to short programs after a brief overview by Kerrie Wilkes, WNYLRC Board president, about the Council and its influence in these six counties on coordinating many programs across library types and facilitating partnerships between similar library types and creating out-of-the box collaborations across type while extending what sometimes is a very small dollar amount to the greatest effectiveness.  WNYLRC was ably represented by several Board of Trustee members, along with system directors from the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System and the Nioga Library System and the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library System.  The Buffalo School Library System, Erie 1 Boces, Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES SLS and others rounded out our diverse membership and were at the ready to answer any questions that the legislators might have.

A tight program of briefings designed to hold attention and demonstrate the diversity of our membership and the collective impact on the community started with Renee Masters from the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library explaining the programs addressing citizens’ public health care information needs and how critical it is for the public to know they have a source of aid in these particularly trying health-care choice years via their public libraries.  Next, Christian Blum from Bryant and Stratton College and Tracy Efthemis, Lancaster High School’s librarian, extolled the virtues of their very successful partnership to introduce students at the high school level to information literacy on the college level and what might be expected of them when they pursue the next step in their educational ladder.  This is a program that can easily be replicated and which is in the works for other schools and academic institutions with the help of WNYLRC’s HIgh School to College committee.  Representing the currently focused push to preserve our history via digital technology was Jessica Johnson from the Margaret L. Wendt Archive and Resource Center at Forest Lawn Cemetery and the boon to historians, genealogists and tourists alike that this new, beautifully planned site will be to this region and to chronicling our history via digitized and hardcopy records. Lastly, Dawn Peters from Buffalo & Erie County Public Library presented a powerpoint demonstration of BPS Desktop, the library’s partnership with the Buffalo Public Schools enabling BPS students to be able to access their schoolwork through the library’s computers at all 37 library locations.  This also allows parents an ability to keep track of their child’s work and to help when needed.

These briefings were only snippets of the work that all of our libraries engage in daily and which are undertaken for nothing more than the greater good of the community.  The fact that partnerships grew out of stretched and stringent budgets only highlights what incredible work could be done with increased funding or, at the very least, a return to the funding that libraries have been led to expect.

Judging from the animated conversations that took place before and after the program, it’s clear that this breakfast is only one way to approach those whose vote can determine libraries future.  Advocacy is an ongoing endeavor and since legislatures are in a constant state of flux, establishing rapport and communications with elected officials should be Job One for all types of libraries.

Kerrie Wilkes welcomes guests to the Legislative Breakfast

Kerrie Wilkes, WNYLRC Board President, welcomes guests to the Legislative Breakfast

Jessica Johnson explains Forest Lawn's digital archives

Jessica Johnson explains Forest Lawn’s digital archives

 

 

Senator Rob Ortt, Keith Bryan, Senator Patrick Gallivan's Office & John Hood, WNYLRC Board member

Senator Rob Ortt, Keith Bryan, Senator Patrick Gallivan’s Office & John Hood, WNYLRC Board member

 

 

Lynn Marinelli WNY Regional Econ. Dev.  & Gabby Ortiz, Senator Ranzenhofer's office

Lynn Marinelli WNY Regional Econ. Dev office & Gabby Ortiz, Senator Ranzenhofer’s office (2nd Row)

Mary Szarek, Assemblyman Schimminger's office & Danny Corum Senator Panepinto's office

Mary Szarek, Assemblyman Schimminger’s office & Danny Corum, Senator Panepinto’s office

For more photos visit our Facebook gallery.

2015 WNYLRC Board of Trustees Officers

January 22nd, 2015

WNYLRC is pleased to announce its slate of 2015 Board of Trustees Officers:

 

President—Kerrie Wilkes, Coordinator of Research and Information Literacy Studies,  State University of New York Fredonia

Treasurer—Timothy Binga, Director, Center for Inquiry Libraries

Secretary—Margaret Wells, Director of Public Services and the Arts & Sciences Library, University at Buffalo

Vice President/President Elect—Dr. Heidi Julien, Chair & Professor, Department of Library & Information Studies, Graduate School of Education, University at Buffalo

 

We welcome them and wish them well as they pursue their tasks.

 

Library Card Now the NYC ID Card In New York’s Three Public Library Systems

January 16th, 2015

At first blush you might think that a broad desire to distribute ID cards to all inhabitants would be viewed with skepticism if not downright police-state fears and, indeed, the ACLU has expressed distress over this plan but New York City’s initiative to issue municipal identification cards has been met with excitement and relief.  This proves the adage that everything is in the eye of the beholder and if you can just twist your thinking 180 degrees then, perhaps, you can come to agree with almost anything.  This program, initiated by Mayor Bill de Blasio, is a boon for the homeless and undocumented citizens who are unable to take part in any services which demand identification.  This new card will allow for prescription discounts, entrance to museums and zoos and is an automatic library card as well as identification if police query you.  Access without need for other proof.  Some identification is required for the card, such as a birth certificate or passport, but it can be from anywhere.  Any fears of security breaches are retorted by city officials as this card is “fraud proof”, they have declared.  It is not the first city to issue an ID card but may actually have the happiest audience receiving them.  Read.

E-Rate Funding Increases By Over One Billion

January 5th, 2015

For all those who cringe when they hear “E-Rate” because they vividly remember the reams of paperwork and the complicated methods of application to qualify for the funds to acquire high-speed internet for schools and libraries, at least now E-Rate will mean a lot more money.  The FCC has increased funds by 1.5 billion.  This is the first increase in years BUT it comes with fees tacked on to everyone’s phone bills (the money has to come from somewhere).  These fees will be assessed on mobile and home service as well as businesses.  As might be expected, this move was not a cross-party favorite.  On one side, opponents feel the program is “broken” to begin with and this just throws more money at a broken system and the others feel it’s the only way to level an educational playing field.  Read.

Digitization is a Global Concept

December 23rd, 2014

As we struggle to find funds to maintain our traditional services, we also strive to put in place initiatives which are vital to libraries’ futures and, quite obviously, digitization is the key focus of many of those attempts.  While we are mired in our own pursuits, however, we can lose sight of the bigger picture and where, as a unit, libraries will belong in the coming decades.  Whether by accident or by concerted effort, it is apparent that libraries the world over, see technology as a tool to preserve what’s in the past and make it available in a present-to-future fashion.  It seems, collectively, everyone has come to the conclusion that the time for preservation of our human culture is now or never and these global initiatives prove that there is so little difference among all of us.  The desires all appear to be the same.  There are some really wonderful projects ongoing in this Computers in Libraries list and, since it is from the year 2000, one presumes they are accomplished and available for use.  Though not timely, it is a picture of similarity.  Read.