Richards Library needs boost in public funding

To the Adirondack Journal:

Through the 1990s, Richards Library was able to operate on investment earnings from its endowment. The stock market debacles of the past dozen years, however, had disastrous results for the endowment, the same as for other institutions and individuals, necessitating that the library tap its endowment principal to make up for budget shortfalls during the past decade.

Richards Library serves an area of 6,000 people, and receives $27,900 in public funding (less than $4.75 per capita, compared to the state-recommended level of $20), and almost all of that comes from the 4,000 people of Warrensburg. The 2012 budget is $81,000.

Here are public funding data from three other association (private) libraries in the region that serve populations similar in size to that of Richards Library. The data is from the Southern Adirondack Library System Statistical Summary.

• Corinth: $83,000 public funding (2/3 school district, 1/3 municipal), $13.87/capita;

• Stillwater: $127,400 (100% municipal), $20/capita;

• Greenwich: $84,000 total (36% school district, 64% municipal); $17.20/ capita.

Besides those three libraries in Saratoga and Washington counties, every library in Warren County receives at least triple the level of public funding that Richards Library does. The library trustees have proposed a levy to spread the operating cost over the entire area served by Richards Library, not just upon Warrensburg, adding 50% more people to contribute. This is the most equitable way to fund the library’s operations. While state law provides that the school district will collect the levy, this is not a school tax and is unrelated to the school budget.

Paul Gilchrist


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