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* This article first appeared in The Times Herald-Record on June 17, 2000. Used by permission.



Libraries to OC: Show us some money

GOSHEN: Libraries to Orange County: Check this out we need money.

By Christopher Mele
The Times Herald-Record

Orange County's libraries want county government to open a book a checkbook to help them make ends meet.

Orange is the only county from Westchester to Albany that does not allocate money for libraries, according to the Orange Library Association.

The group, representing Orange's 17 libraries, argues that county help is needed to offset growth in population, stagnant state funding and higher costs for technology.

For instance, a state subsidy and grant that helped cover the operation and maintenance costs of computer terminals will expire next year. The cost per terminal will jump to $1,400 from $300.

"For us, that's a lot of money,'' said Margery Cyr, director of the Albert Wisner Public Library in Warwick and president of the Orange Library Association.

Carmela Chase, vice president of the association and director of the Tuxedo Park Library, noted that the libraries' online catalogue crosses community lines and is accessible throughout the county.

But County Executive Joseph G. Rampe, a former president of the Greenwood Lake Library board, said many libraries can raise money through taxing districts.

"If we were to (give money), why don't we raise our taxes higher and give to the fire district, the school district?'' he asked.

Finance Committee Chairman Roy Weyant, R-Monroe, said "it's an impossible thing for us to do because we just don't have that kind of money."

But Legislator Jeffrey Berkman, D-Middletown, said he was very interested in hearing what library officials have to say.

He suggested taking $100,000 from tobacco settlement money and buying public health education materials for the libraries. That would then free up libraries to spend that sum on other needs, Berkman said.

Library officials, who are hosting a legislative luncheon Friday, have not set an amount they are seeking. Sullivan, Ulster and Dutchess counties contribute $25,000, $200,000 and $250,000, respectively, Orange library officials said.


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