Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D - Columbia, Dutchess), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Libraries and Education Technology, announced that the 2018-19 state budget provides a significant increase in funding for library construction grants to help local libraries make much-needed facility upgrades and enhance services. This total of $34 million is an increase of $10 million over last year, and a significant boost in the State’s overall commitment to libraries.
“Our libraries are playing an increasingly critical role in all our communities -- rural, urban and suburban,” Barrett said. “Whether it’s providing internet, workforce prep, homework help or simply fellowship, we need libraries that are accessible and technologically sophisticated to meet the needs of our diverse populations in 21st century New York.”
In addition to increasing capital funds for public libraries, the state budget increases funding for operational aid to $96.6 million – an increase of $1 million over last year. The budget also provides $250,000 in funding for the historic Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and $75,000 for the Langston Hughes Library, both internationally recognized resources.
A longtime and vocal supporter of libraries, Barrett was appointed chair of the Assembly Committee on Libraries and Education Technology earlier this year. As chair, Barrett has recognized libraries as pioneers in shared services, sustainability and adaptive reuse. She has advocated for libraries to play a key role around the 2020 Census as trusted locations for residents to fill out online forms, particularly in areas that have been historically undercounted. Barrett has also advocated for other funding streams and streamlined procedures to bring more resources to both library systems and branches.
Locally, Barrett is actively engaged with the Mid-Hudson Library System. She has worked with public libraries in her Assembly district for five years to develop and distribute her annual booklet, Women’s History in the Hudson Valley: Ten Stories from Columbia and Dutchess Counties, as well as host #GetTickedOff forums to raise awareness about Lyme and tick-borne diseases.