Norris Launches Petition for Library Funding

A Legislative Column from Assemblyman Mike Norris (R,C-Lockport)

As it is budget season at our state Capitol and in recognition of February being National Library Lover’s Month, a dedication honoring the people who love these institutions devoted to reading, housing, organizing, categorizing, finding, studying and enjoyment of books, digital materials and research services, I am launching a petition calling on our state leaders to increase the funding going to libraries across our state.

Though our libraries have been asked to do more and more in recent years, construction aid has been held flat at $34 million since 2019 – and was even cut by more than half to just $14 million in fiscal years 2020 and 2021. Libraries simply need help to modernize, update, maintain and grow in space to become more accessible for all, house materials and new collections and technologies such as computers and 3D printing, and offer the programming we all enjoy.

In fact, the Buffalo and Erie County Library System serves over 413,404 cardholders who borrowed more than 6.94 million materials in 2023, including 1.9 million digital downloads, nearly 300,000 public computer sessions at 946 public computers, and over 2.125 million visits to the system’s 37 libraries and 2 mobile libraries.

The Nioga Library System, serving three counties in Western New York including Niagara County, not only maintains 21 branch libraries but also offers Nioga Mobile Tech computer and technology training with On Demand and scheduled classes, fun activities for children, and access to the national libraries such as the Library of Congress catalog, National Archives and National Library of Medicine.

Within these systems are our beloved local libraries, like the Lockport Public Library for example. Not only can you borrow books but you can also check out magazines, ebooks, audiobooks, music, movies or documentaries, language learning or access materials digitally as well.

As many communities in Western New York still struggle with affordable and reliable high-speed broadband, libraries are an important port for Internet access to schoolchildren, businesses and the public-at-large. Computers can be checked out or you can bring your own device and hop onto the WiFi access provided at libraries.

Libraries play an important role for many when it comes to business, whether you’re just starting out or conducting personal business as they offer meeting rooms, mobile printing/scanning and other business hub services. They can even offer support when filing income taxes.

Not only can libraries help your research a project but they can also obtain materials for you from other sources – and people who are homebound are also able to enjoy these services as well.

As you can see, our libraries offer so much – and every library offers something a little different, so I encourage you to stop by your local library or check out their website to learn more. And please sign my petition at to help support our libraries. They truly are the heart of our community.