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On the local library scene, the new buzzword from the county is consolidation.

Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi has been in the news a great deal as he explores the possibilities for consolidation of municipal services. This initiative is part of a larger statewide effort which began with the governor's appointment of the Commission on Local Government Efficiency.

There is a study under way by consultants from PFM (Public Financial Management) to explore possibilities for consolidation within the county. One of the areas being looked at is public libraries.

What does this mean?

The county executive is considering the concept of a single county-wide library system, similar to those in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. He has been quoted as saying that a county library system with one board of trustees appointed by the county would be more accountable, transparent and efficient than the system currently in effect, which includes 54 independently funded and run public libraries.

Although Mr. Suozzi has said that if such a plan were to be implemented no buildings would be closed, no services reduced, and no staff eliminated except by attrition, it is not yet clear how this would be accomplished, or how net savings to the taxpayer would result.

How does it work now?

While the 54 independent public libraries in Nassau County are locally controlled, they already share many services in an effort to reduce costs. Here are a few examples:

• County residents may borrow materials from any library in Nassau County with their home library card.

• Borrowers may return books and some other materials at any library in the county.

• Library materials are displayed on a shared automated catalog that allows a patron to see the holdings of all libraries in the county and place reserves or renew items. This can also be done remotely from home or elsewhere 24/7.

• Public libraries cooperatively purchase research databases and other types of online databases such as Live Homework Help and downloadable audio books and videos.

If you have questions or concerns, here is some contact information:

Port Washington Public Library Director, Nancy Curtin curtinn@pwpl.org

County Legislator Wayne Wink wwink@nassaucountyny.gov

State Senator Craig Johnson Johnson@senate.state.ny.us

Assemblyperson Michelle Schimel schmilm@assembly.state.ny.us


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