Introductory Remarks by Library Director Michael C. Mahaney June 27, 2007
Honorable Legislators, good morning. My name is Michael Mahaney and it is my privilege to serve as Director of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library. With me today are Trustee Richard Berger, B&ECPL Treasurer and Chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee, and CFO Kenneth H. Stone. In the audience are other members of the Library Board, representatives of the contracting libraries and key members of the staff.
Those of us who believe we were brought up properly learned valuable and lasting lessons from our parents or our caregivers, and among the most important lessons one can learn and practice as we proceed through life is a very simple, albeit important, one: to say thank you.
Last year, with your help, Erie County and its public library system turned a corner. After two years of crisis, we began to restore what had been reduced and repair what had been broken. We took the first steps toward making our new, leaner library system more responsive and more effective, so it can better serve the diverse needs of our diverse community. While many still depend on us for traditional library resources and services, such as books, magazines, media and general reference, more and more of our residents rely on their local library as their touchstone to technology and their onramp to the Internet. We need to respond to new needs as well as old needs in a constantly changing environment.
Thank you for investing in our public libraries. Last year, for the first time in 3 years, this body increased our annual appropriation by $500,000, and we used those funds to expand hours of public access, especially at libraries that had failed to meet New York State minimum standards in 2006. We have much farther to go, but we are moving in the right direction, and we are grateful for your partnership and your continuing support.
Id like to take this opportunity to thank you again for something else you did for us last year. On December 14th, when the 15 members of the Erie County Legislature voted unanimously to make the Library Protection a permanent local law, I wanted to stand up and cheer! You cant begin to imagine how much that vote meant to the trustees, staff and volunteers who commit themselves daily to delivering quality library services to the people of Buffalo and Erie County.
That vote represented more than just the enactment of legislation. It was a demonstration of your awareness and appreciation of the value of library resources and services within our community, and it affirmed something that I have come to believe over the past 2 years ? that the Legislature and the Library are, indeed, committed partners, working in close collaboration to benefit our mutual constituents.
Just a few weeks ago, Legislature Chair Lynn Marinelli, in a column published in the Bee Group newspapers, addressed some questions and misperceptions about library funding in Erie County. She also asked: " the library board and staffs [to] prepare a realistic neighborhood services restoration plan that covers a three-year timeline. The prioritized and itemized local libraries funding restoration plan would also address compliance with specific state libraries regulations. She further stated: "There will be a necessity for extensive deliberations on a plan, which has community support but does not raise false expectations."
In the weeks ahead, as we embark on the 2008 budget process, the Library intends to address this request as we construct a reasonable plan to rebuild and redefine our service programs and our infrastructure over the next three years. Your participation in this process is not only welcome; it is essential.
We are partners, after all.