The State Assembly Committees on Governmental Operations and Libraries & Education Technology jointly held a public hearing in Albany on July 28, 2009. The hearing was conducted by the respective committee chairs, Assembly Member Roann Destito (D-Utica) and Assembly Member Barbara Lifton (D-Ithaca). Also joining the panel was Ranking Minority Member of the Libraries Committee, Assembly Member Marcus Molinaro (R-Hudson).
The hearing invited testimony to illuminate strategies and methods that would allow libraries to more effectively and efficiently procure needed services and commoditites, including technology services, in the interest of saving scarce budget dollars.
State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner of the State Education Department, Bernard Margolis, testified to the benefits of library collaboration in lowering costs and advocated for reforming state procurement structures to permit public and academic libraries to aggregate market share and also contribute – through the state – to lower the cost of statewide electronic databases.
On behalf of the New York State Higher Education Initiative, Executive Director Jason Kramer, spoke on the need for state leadership in securing digital information resources. He both urged state leaders to provide budgetary support, preferably in the method proscribed by the Academic Research Information Access (ARIA) act, and also through the creation of state-held contracts with publishing vendors that libraries could option to buy into.
Also providing invited testimony were representatives of the State Office of General Services, the New York Library Association, and the Westchester Library System.
Assembly Members were fully engaged in the hearing and asked probing questions with an eye toward developing legislation for the upcoming 2010 legislative session.
“It was a very productive day,” said NYSHEI Director Jason Kramer. “Clearly Members Destito, Lifton and Molinaro understand the dire economic need to support academic and research libraries and vital information infrastructure. Most importantly, they are aggressively looking for a way to help sooner than later, in spite of looming state budget deficits.”
Full NYSHEI testimony can be read here: procure-hearing-july-09