By: Diane Stirling
A School of Information Studies (iSchool) faculty member was among a small group of library directors and specialists to testify before members of the New York State Senate Select Committee on Libraries in the state capital this week.
Barbara Stripling, Assistant Professor of Practice at the iSchool, took part in a presentation organized by the New York State Library Association during its advocacy week activities in Albany. The roundtable focused on funding issues and operational changes in public and school library systems.
Professor Stripling said the library group encouraged the senators to seek a 4% restoration of state aid to public school libraries, the same boost the state has planned for public school systems. Initially, the state did not consider additional monies for school libraries when it added a 4% increase in aid for schools. “We were trying to help committee members understand that libraries are an education system, and you can’t marginalize them,” she said.
They also presented statistics showing a drop of about 23% in aid to public libraries over the last few years, and noted that continuing funding cuts could mean the closing of libraries in some schools. “You hear about public libraries that are going to close, but you don’t hear about the hundreds of school libraries that are closing. You hear of kids going through their whole schooling experience without getting the instruction they need from librarians,” including digital literacy training, Stripling noted.
The library group was encouraged by the large number of committee members in attendance, as well as their commitment to seek restoration of the 4% state aid, Stripling said. In other discussion, the senators were highly receptive to the orientation of public libraries as the center of a community, answering the needs of the community, and of the necessity for libraries in all environments – rural, suburban, and urban areas. She said they also were curious about the status of e-books and the impact of digital materials on print book circulation.
Before joining the faculty at Syracuse University, Professor Stripling served seven years as director of library services for the New York City Department of Education, overseeing programs for 1.1 million students and 1,700 schools. Prior to that, she worked in school and public library systems as a director of instructional services, program director and media specialist in New York, Arkansas and Tennessee.