18 May Our investment in Wood Library builds community
This essay by Library Trustee Jill Werth appeared in the Canandaigua Daily Messenger on May 13, 2021.
I am proud to be part of a community that responded to the challenges of the past year by supporting local businesses, checking in on neighbors, and propping each other up with kind words and rainbows in the windows.
Albert Einstein said, “The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library!” This is so true. Wood Library offers everyone respite, hope, and a sense of community. The library is an equalizer for our diverse community. It offers access to books, materials, and learning opportunities, regardless of income or background. It promotes literacy and knowledge for all. Step into the library and you can go places and be anyone, get information, learn new skills, and find your community.
Last year, for three months, Wood Library’s building was closed to the public, yet it remained an essential resource by providing life-sustaining virtual programs and access to digital content. Employees and trustees went above and beyond to fulfill our mission in new ways. I am proud of our organization and the way we worked together to respond to the crises and uncertainties of 2020.
Wood Library continues to face challenges. The pandemic has not ended and we must continue to adapt. Just 70% of the library budget is funded by the voter-approved library levy. The balance comes from donations and fundraising, grants and some fees for service – none of which are guaranteed sources of revenue.
On May 18, a proposition for Wood Library funding will appear on the same ballot as the Canandaigua City School District budget. It asks voters to authorize the School District to levy and collect an annual tax for Wood Library in the amount of $771,000 starting with the 2021-2022 tax bill. This is an increase of $50,732 over the base amount that was approved by voters in 2020.
If approved, the levy will increase the library property tax rate by 1.6 cents per thousand dollars of assessed property valuation. This would add a total of $2.47 to the tax bill of a property assessed at $150,000.
The proposed levy increase addresses state-mandated minimum wage increases and cost-of-living adjustments to salaries and benefits, and will restore hours and funds for collections that were cut in 2020. It will also ensure the continuation of essential virtual programs for everyone. Fundraising and the amount tapped from the library’s endowment income will have to increase to $309,000 to fully fund operations.
Wood Library is an essential community resource that builds community and helps our neighbors thrive. Community-based funding offers a stable source of funding for Wood Library which translates into access to lifelong learning, technology, and cultural resources that are so vital in today’s world. Our collective investment in the library offers dividends that compound and enrich all of our lives.
Jill Werth resides in Canandaigua and is President of the Wood Library Board of Trustees