Keep Those Letters Coming

Friday, Nov. 23, Daily Gazette contains a letter to the editor from John Karl, concerning the budget cuts proposed for the library. 

Don’t compare county library and nursing home in same breath

In the Nov. 18 article, “Counties priced out of the nursing home business,” Schenectady County spokesman Joe McQueen made a very misleading correlation between the nursing home losses at Glendale and the costs of maintaining the Schenectady County library system.
   The library does not “lose” money, as he suggested. In fact, the library system is the greatest bargain for taxpayer dollars in the county, if not the whole state. The library does not receive a per-client reimbursement from the federal or state government, as does the nursing home.
   The county budget for the library has been static for more than fi ve years, at $5.5 million to operate the central library and nine branches scattered throughout the county.
   In comparison, the Clifton Park-Halfmoon library (one building) has an annual budget of over $4 million.
   Ask Mr. McQueen why the Schenectady library has been able to keep a level budget, even with costs of everything going up. The only answer can be that there have been drastic cuts in staff over the past five or more years. The library has lost eight professional librarian positions, several senior clerks and numerous other clerks who have not been replaced.
   The new director and assistant director have not been replaced as they assumed their new duties, and they are doing their old jobs on top of the new responsibilities. Volunteers and substitutes are doing a wonderful job of supplementing the overburdened staff to keep the Schenectady libraries providing the best services and materials in the area.
   The library budget will be cut (by the county manager) over $520,000 for 2013, and a half-million the following year and for who knows how many years. How long before we have no library in Schenectady? Ask Mr. McQueen and the county manager he works for.

JOHN KARL Niskayuna The writer a member of the Friends of the Schenectady County Public Library.


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