A recently released Siena College Research Institute poll conducted the week of January 11th found that local public library usage is up 10% throughout New York state over the last three years, with usage by young women and communities of color up nearly 15%, and up nearly 20% among those households making less than $50,000 annually. This surge in usage, along with the findings detailed below, confirm that traditionally underrepresented communities are increasingly reliant on the resources provided by their local public library, and library funding must be viewed as an equality issue.The Siena poll findings include:
- Library usage is up 10% statewide, 15% among women respondents aged 18-34, nearly 15% among African-American respondents, 15% among Latino respondents, and among all income demographics, with usage up 20% for those households making less than $50,000 annually;
- A clear majority of respondents want increased library funding, with nearly 45% advocating for library aid to increase in proportion with overall education funding, and 30% saying library aid should be fully funded under the law;
- For nearly 33% of African-American and Latino respondents, and 25% of households making less than $50,000 annually, the public library is their primary source of internet access;
- Of the respondents who have used their local public library for job seeking or career building programs in the last six months, 53% were African-American, and 40% were households making less than $50,000 annually;
- 94% of respondents said public libraries are “very” or “somewhat” important to our state’s educational infrastructure, while more than 80% of women, African-Americans, Latinos, and households making less than $50,000 say public libraries are “very important” to our educational system.
Library funding is nearly 20% less than what is mandated in state Education Law, and is currently at 1997 levels. In last year’s Executive Budget, library aid was cut by 4.7%, while proposed education aid was increased 3.8%. Total education spending in last year’s enacted budget increased 5.7%, but library aid increased only 1.2%.
Mr. Cuomo, what say you?