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Nyack Library Trustees Election

by Roger Seiler

The turnout yesterday for the election of four Nyack Library trustees was the largest that the library has seen in years: 187 voters.  Thanks to all who came out to vote!  And thanks also to Deirdre O’Hagan whose spirited candidacy brought so much attention to this election.

This was the first contested election in many years, with one candidate on the ballot (Ms. O’Hagan) who had been nominated by a petition signed by 41 members of the public, as provided in the library’s bylaws. The other four candidates had been nominated by the Library Board, also according to the bylaws’ procedure.

The votes cast for each trustee candidate were as follows:

Mary Callan 137
Kevin Doyle 118
Debra Karten 114
Michael Growney 109
Deirdre O’Hagan 107

The first four candidates listed above were incumbents and were reelected to the four positions that were up for election.

After the election of trustees, the Nyack Library Board of Trustees met and elected its officers for the coming year as follows:

President, Roger Seiler
Vice President,  Joan Moffett
Treasurer, Paul Shein
Secretary, Debra Karten

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Some important facts about the Nyack Library of which many of the public may not be aware’€¦

The Nyack Library is a private not for profit corporation incorporated in 1890 and chartered by the New York State Department of Education.  This corporation owns and operates the library to serve the public, and is classified by the state as an “association library” (not as a municipal or school district library). The library’s chartered service area includes the villages of Nyack, South Nyack, Upper Nyack, Grand View, and those parts of Upper Grandview and Central Nyack that are within the Nyack School District. The population of this area is over 14 thousand people.

For many years, the library received its principal financial support from the village governments.  However, in 1903, Andrew Carnegie gave the library $15,000 to build its core building.  One of the conditions of his grant was that his picture had to be visible from the library’s front entrance.  Next time you walk through the front door of the Carnegie building, you can wink at Mr. Carnegie in recognition that as a taxpaying supporter of the library, you’ve taken over where he left off.

In 1968, as provided by state law, the voters of the Nyack School District authorized the School District to collect a tax that would be passed through to the library to provide its main financial support.  Under its contract with the School District for this tax collection service, the library is obligated to serve the entire school district.  Each year, the library goes before the voters for approval of its requested increase over the prior year’s budget.  The current year income budget of the Nyack Library is $2,735,800 of which $2,407,647 comes from taxes and the rest from property rental income, grants, donations, etc. For comparison, this budget is similar in size to that of the Village of South Nyack, which serves about 3500 people (with an entirely different range of services than that of the library).

The Nyack Library is in the final phase of its expansion and renovation program, which is doubling the size of the library to 30,000 square feet to meet the current and future needs of the library for a long time to come.  Our original expansion plan was to just build a smaller two story expansion, designed to enable adding a third story as needed in future years.  But, at a well attended public briefing on our plans in November, 2004, even critics of the library’s plans urged us to build all three floors now, because with escalating construction costs, adding a third floor later could cost much more than building the first two floors now.  So that’s what we’ve done, with overwhelming public approval at budget votes every year since. We expect the expansion and renovation to be completed within a few months, at which time the library will hold a dedication event for the public.

Some have questioned the need for such an expansion, considering the rapid move to online information and digital media.  The fact is that these advances in information technology, plus world events, have helped fuel an information explosion that has greatly increased rather than decreased the need for library services and space.  But that’s a topic for another article.

Again, many thanks to all the voters who came to the library yesterday.  Stay tuned for more information on how one can become a candidate for election as a library trustee.

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Roger Seiler is President of the Nyack Library Board of Trustees.




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