MHLS Home Trustee Resources: Across the Board
Spring 2001

Across the Board | Spring 2001
The Mid-Hudson Library System's Quarterly Newsletter for Public Library Trustees

NEW CENTURY LIBRARIES | Over the past three months the Mid-Hudson Library System and its member libraries have been following the progress of the New Century Libraries: Regents Legislative and Budget Initiative 2001-2002 legislation. This legislation has now been introduced to both houses: Senate Bill S3714 and Assembly Bill A7349.
Your library needs your immediate help to convey the importance of this funding proposal. New Century Libraries calls for a $95 million investment to implement the Regents Commission on Library Service recommendations. Ten million dollars of that amount would be used for library construction. This would be a huge boost in the amount of money allotted to Mid-Hudson libraries. The System currently receives $37,000 each year to distribute among all member libraries.
If this legislation passed with the $10 million earmarked for public library construction, Mid-Hudson would receive $800,000 to distribute among member libraries with pending construction projects. Libraries in our System have construction needs totaling over $47 million—so start writing and calling your legislators today to get this money into the final New York State budget.
Also send letters to Governor George E. Pataki, State Capitol, Albany, New York 12224; Senator Joseph L. Bruno, 909 Legislative Office Building, Albany, New York 12247;
and Speaker Sheldon Silver, 932 Legislative Office Building, Albany, New York 12248. Ask them to support the New Century Libraries initiative, stressing these key points: (1) More than 60 percent of public library buildings in New York State are over 50 years old; (2) 38 percent lack adequate electrical wiring to accommodate computer and Internet technology and other needs; (3) 46 percent lack full accessibility for individuals with disabilities; (4) 75 percent lack adequate space to accommodate the past ten years of growth in their collections at a time when information resources are growing exponentially. (Use anecdotes about your library to reinforce these four points; make the need in your community very clear.)
When communicating with your local legislators, remember to thank them for past support but drive home the need for increased funding for your library. For legislator contact information, go to

A IS FOR ADVOCACY | The Mid-Hudson Library System held an Advocacy Workshop in February with guest speaker Janet Welch, New York State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries. Advocacy training was conducted by Mary Rinato Berman, Assistant Coordinator for Manhattan Branches, New York Public Library, and Chair of the New York Library Association Legislative Committee; and Robert Bellinger, New York Public Library Regional Librarian and Chair of the NewYork Public Library Budget Action Committee. Mid-Hudson Library System Board President Jesse Feiler introduced Ms. Welch, who talked about the Regents Commission’s recommendations for libraries and their legislative and budget initiative for 2001–2002, New Century Libraries. Ms. Welch highlighted four of the most important recommendations: (1) More state money for library construction; (2) Needbased aid to public libraries in poor and high-need areas; (3) Creation of Public Library Districts so all New Yorkers will have access to a local public library; (4) Creation of NOVEL, New York Online Virtual Electronic Library. For more information on the Regents Commission on Library Services, visit For more information on the Regents New Century Libraries initiative, visit
The second half of the workshop focused on how to advocate for your library and was led by Mary Berman and Robert Bellinger of the New York Public Library. Ms. Berman and Mr. Bellinger reiterated that advocacy is a yearround effort and shared the following tips: (1) Educate every staff member about the library and make sure they know they are an integral part of your advocacy efforts. (2) Invite your local legislators to the library so they can see what you’re doing, and what you have and don’t have. Register them for a library card. (3) Make sure your library is a visible part of the community. For example, regularly attend your town board meetings to sit and listen—don’t just attend when you’re asking for funds.
When you are ready to talk to legislators: (1) Prepare yourself and your staff. Know the issues, know your purpose, and know your audience. (2) Talk about what you know. Tell them a story about a patron you helped—or couldn’t help because your library lacks vital resources. (3) Put a local face on the money being asked for. Let them know what it will mean to their constituents. (4) Thank them for member items, if you received one. (5) If you can’t answer a legislator’s question, that’s OK, but get back to them with the answer ASAP.
For a packet of the materials distributed at the Advocacy Workshop, contact Rebekkah Smith:; 845.471.6060 ext. 239. You can also borrow a videotape of the Advocacy Workshop through WebBook: VC0356; or call Tom Finnigan at 845.471.6060 ext. 244 for assistance.

PRE-LIBRARY LEGISLATIVE DAY ADVOCATES | Prior to Library Legislative Day in Albany on March 20, 2001, Mid-Hudson Library System representatives visited area legislators to convey the importance of increased funding for libraries. On March 1, 2001 a group from the System met with Senator Vincent Leibell (37th Senate District) to talk to him about New Century Libraries, the Regents legislative and budget initiative for 2001–2002. On March 15, 2001 another group from Mid-Hudson met with Senator Stephen Saland (41st Senate District) to update him on the dire need for library construction money. Senator Saland informed the group that he will cosponsor Senator Hugh Farley’s bill this year, which puts forth the New Century Libraries initiative.

MANAGING LIBRARY BUILDING PROJECTS | Thirty-one member libraries were represented at the March 26th LAMA Institute workshop held at Mid-Hudson. William Sannwald, Assistant to the City Manager and Manager of Library Design and Development for the City of San Diego was the presenter. With nearly 100 people in attendance—90 percent of whom represented member libraries—the workshop provided practical advice for libraries considering a construction project.
Many aspects of a building project were covered: (1) library needs; (2) the role of library committees and constituency; (3) library building programs; and (4) working with architects. Mr. Sannwald also presented case studies which showed new-construction options such as refurbishment, renovation, and expansion.
In assessing your library’s building needs Mr. Sannwald suggested asking yourself two core questions: (1) What are similar libraries doing? (2) What can we afford to do? If you have satisfactorily answered these questions and are now considering a capital campaign, Rebekkah Smith (845.471.6060 ext. 239; is available to speak with your Board’s fund development committee about campaign strategy and ideas.
Would you like to receive additional information about library building projects? We can add you to the Mid-Hudson Construction Listserv, where you will receive direct e-mail about this topic and have an opportunity to share ideas with others.
Now available on the Mid-Hudson web site at, under Resources for Trustees, is a listing of architects and fund-raising consultants who have worked with public libraries. This is a very helpful resource.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS NYSALB TRUSTEE INSTITUTE | Friday & Saturday, May 4 & 5, 2001 | Holiday Inn, Kingston, New York | Nonmembers: $55.00; Members: $45.00; the Friday dinner is an additional $25.00. Friday evening dinner participants will have the opportunity to network with trustees from libraries of all sizes. Those who attended in previous years were so enthusiastic about this part of the program that we have decided to offer the opportunity again. It is a time to share your successes and to learn how others deal with library problems, programs, and activities. || Saturday includes a general session on Trusteeship that will address the importance of being a proactive trustee-advocate. You will have a choice between two morning-session workshops: (1) Library Construction and Renovation or (2) e-Books and Other Electronic Technology. Maurice “Mitch” Freedman has agreed to be the keynote speaker for the Trustee Institute Luncheon on Saturday. Mr. Freedman is the Director of the Westchester Library System and was responsible for the development of one of the first public library advocacy programs in the country. Call NYSALB at 518.286.2150 to register.

BENEFITS WORKSHOP | MHLS Auditorium | Thursday, May 17, 2001 | 10am–Noon. If you are an Association library and do not have employee benefits, or if your library has tried to get benefits and could not, take note of the upcoming Benefits Workshop. This is the venue where you can explore the options in medical, dental, disability, and life insurance. The workshop is open to all libraries; trustees are strongly encouraged to attend. Bring your questions. Register with Merribeth Advocate, or by phone at 845.471.6060 ext. 254.

MHLS TRUSTEE TRAININGS (multiple dates in June 2001)
- Saturday, June 2d | 10am–12n | Hudson Area Library
- Wednesday, June 6th | 6–8pm | MHLS Auditorium
- Saturday, June 9th | 10am–12n | Kingston Area Library
- Tuesday, June 12th | 6–8pm | Mahopac Library
These sessions are designed to educate public library trustees in two areas:
1. The background and structure of libraries in New York.
2. The roles and functions of a Board.
There is a $100 incentive grant to libraries if at least one of their trustees attends a Mid-Hudson Library System trustee training. The System will mail checks based on attendance. To register contact Merribeth Advocate, MHLS Continuing Education Coordinator, at 845.471.6060 ext. 254 or by e-mail at


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