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If passed, New York's Gov. Paterson's proposed budget cuts would bring state funding to libraries down to just $84.5 million.
In the Westchester Library System (WLS), half of the 38 public libraries have cut back their hours due to budget cuts just since 2008, and 50 full-time jobs have been eliminated in only the past year.
"Given the state's fiscal woes, reductions in state spending are unfortunately unavoidable – yet funding for our libraries cannot be further compromised," said State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer.
Calling the library system a "great equalizer" she noted that libraries serve the greater community in a way so few organizations do: "They are places where individuals of any means can find answers to their questions in a very calm sanctuary."
Dave Donelson, a Trustee of the WLS, slammed the proposed budget, and juxtaposed the need and demand for public libraries to ticket sales of major-league baseball. " There were over 8 million visits to Westchester libraries in 2009," said Donelson. "That's more than a full season attendance at Yankee Stadium."
"Libraries are not just a depository of books; libraries are places where teenagers gather after school, where seniors come for help navigating the maze of our health insurance system, and where thousands of people come for help finding a job," he said.
Photos and story of the protest from Chappaqua Patch.