Bethlehem Public Library to receive state funds

A local state legislator has helped the Bethlehem Public Library move forward with its upgrades and renovations during a time when libraries are being hit hard by a bad economy and increased use.

Assemblyman Tim Gordon, I-Bethlehem, announced Wednesday, March 11, that the Bethlehem Public Library is one of several regional libraries that will receive state grants for construction and expansion projects.

Gordon said the funding for these grants was appropriated in last year's state budget.

Bethlehem Public Library will receive $42,796 for expansion and reconstruction of the existing parking lot; a new covered shelter for passenger drop-off and pickup; and new walkways and crosswalks from the parking lot to the library building.

We are very grateful for the help we are receiving, Bethlehem Public Library Director Nancy Pieri said in a release. "This assistance will allow for necessary improvements to be made at the library so that we may continue providing quality services for the community."

Gordon said there were 181 grants given to libraries throughout New York and that he is happy to be able to bring one home for his constituents that use his hometown library.

"I was really pleased and I appreciate the way the state handled this," Gordon said. "The libraries are currently experiencing a spike in usage for a number of reasons."

On the same day, March 11, the New York Library Association (NYLA) held its annual Library Lobby Day at the state capitol in Albany.

The event brought more than 1,000 librarians, trustees and library patrons who all asked the Legislature to restore the governor's proposed $18 million, or 18 percent, cut in library aid. The day included a breakfast reception for legislators and library leaders and was followed with library advocates meeting with legislators and their staffs in their offices.

"During tough economic times, you should not cut funding for public services that are in the greatest demand or can do the most good, and libraries helping people find jobs, start new careers or access public assistance programs fit into that category," NYLA Executive Director Michael J. Borges said in a release.

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