Public Employee Press
Political Action 2006
Battling for public libraries
DC 37 library workers were among an army of 880 activists
from around the state who lobbied politicians in Albany March 14 to beef
up funding for libraries.
The Legislature added $20 million statewide, the first time in eight years
that Albany lawmakers raised the allocation for libraries in the governors
It was historic, said Michael J. Borgess, executive director
of the New York Library Association, which spearheaded Library Lobby Day.
Since 1998, we have fought only for restorations, because we couldnt
get the governor to add funds for libraries.
Borgess credited unions DC 37, the Teachers and the Civil Service
Employees Association, an affiliate of DC 37s parent union
along with parent and community groups for making the lobbying a success.
DC 37 Political Action Director Wanda Williams described the budget victory
as an example of how DC 37 protects services by working with community
When your lobbying leads to a $20 million increase in spending,
you certainly see the value of getting involved in politics, Williams
said. Our members should be proud of their role in persuading the
Legislature to bolster the budget.
Thanks to the lobbying, the New York Public Library system will get an
additional $2.7 million, the Queens Borough Public Library will get an
extra $2.2 million and the Brooklyn Public Library will be allocated $2
On Library Day, union activists traveled to Albany on buses provided by
DC 37, Local 1930 and the three library systems.
Local 1930 President Lynn Taylor said an important result of the lobbying
effort was that the state legislators changed the funding formula. Beginning
in the new budget, state funding will be based on 2000 U.S. Census data
rather than the smaller population figures from 1990.
Our action was important because the new funding formula will add
about $2 million in permanent state assistance to the library systems,
said Taylor. In a March 23 hearing, she also pressed the City Council
to restore cuts proposed by the mayor.
We loved it, said Eileen Muller, president of Brooklyn Public
Library Guild Local 1482, describing the lobbying experience. We
attended a rally, met with legislators and had a real opportunity to get
across our feelings about the need for more funding. Were thrilled
the lawmakers listened.
Gregory N. Heires