Senator Patty Ritchie has been a long-time advocate of our local public libraries and library staff, trustees, and patrons are always thankful for Senator Ritchie’s support. As Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Libraries, Senator Ritchie visits our libraries often to see first-hand what we are doing in our communities, speaks out in favor of libraries both locally and at the state level, and helps secure special funding for individual libraries every year.
St. Lawrence County libraries are funded almost entirely by local funds – whether the funding comes from a local municipality, a local school district, a special legislative district, or a combination of sources. Libraries in St. Lawrence County have received no funding at the county level since 2012 when county legislators decided to eliminate library support from the county budget. Libraries do receive a small amount of state funding on an annual basis, and are sometimes eligible for private or public grants that are usually targeted to specific programs or projects.
When Senator Ritchie is able to procure special state funding for our libraries, it is a very much appreciated “extra” that allows libraries to rehabilitate older buildings, update technology, expand programs, offer new services, and ultimately, provide a better library experience for our communities.
This year, Senator Ritchie has obtained special legislative funding for thirteen of our county libraries, along with other North Country Library System libraries in both Jefferson and Oswego counties. Locally, the total she secured is $28,500 for public libraries and $5,000 for the Northern New York Library Network which is based out of Potsdam.
Laurel Murphy is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Madrid. She states, “Public libraries should be, and are, a repository of knowledge for all age groups and for all citizens, therefore the Hepburn Library of Madrid hopes to use funding from Senator Patty Ritchie to increase our Supplemental Education collection.” Madrid’s collection will include a circulating microscope, science kits, educational board games, curriculum materials, and catalogs. The collection will be available to all patrons during library hours, and she hopes the homeschooling community in Madrid and the surrounding area will benefit from these new materials. In addition to the items for the Supplemental Education collection, Madrid hopes to purchase additional items for other library programs.
The Morristown Public Library will be using their $2,000 in funding toward the construction of 995 additional feet of floor space. Bridget Whalen-Nevin, Director of the Morristown Public Library, is looking forward to the increased space which will allow for an expansion to the patron computer area and a conference space to host library programs and services.
The Hepburn Library of Lisbon is expanding its Makerspace and STEM programing and will be using the $2,000 in funding to purchase equipment and supplies for both adult and children’s programs.
Several libraries will be using the special funding to upgrade computer and technology services, which are in high demand at every library in the county. Adults visit the library to search for jobs, complete job applications, print tickets, perform genealogical research, communicate with family, and stay informed on current issues. Children’s computers are also in high demand as older children visit the library to complete school homework, and younger children take advantage of various literacy and education-based websites and programs. Staying up-to-date with computer technology is critical to every library’s mission.
According to Elaine Archer, Director of the Hepburn Library of Edwards, the library will be using Senator Ritchie’s generous $2,000 contribution to purchase three computers for the library. Providing up-to-date computer service is a project that is important to the Edwards community.
The Ogdensburg Public Library will be spending $5,000 on new computers for patrons and some new materials in various areas of the library. According to Penny Kerfien, Executive Director, “Patty Ritchie is a very strong library supporter who has helped Ogdensburg, specifically, immensely. I am very grateful for what she does for libraries.”
Duffy Ashley, Director of the Hepburn Library of Waddington, is happy to be receiving $2,000 from Senator Ritchie. Library trustees are evaluating their options on how to best utilize the new funds. Under consideration are computer upgrades and an air conditioner.
In addition, the following libraries will be receiving $2,000 each: the Heuvelton Free Library, the Hammond Free Library, the Hepburn Library of Hermon, the Reading Room Association of Gouverneur, the Richville Free Library, and the Rensselaer Falls Branch of Canton. The Morley Branch of Canton will receive $1,500.
Please visit your local library and check out what it has to offer – and when you have the opportunity, please thank Senator Patty Ritchie for supporting the library in your community!