The Honorable the Members of the Board of Regents

Cultural Education Committee



Christine W. Ward  



2007 Regents priority legislative initiatives




November 13, 2006










Executive Summary


Issue for Discussion


Research results from numerous reliable studies indicate that good libraries substantially increase academic performance at all levels. Most New York museums have aligned their offerings with the state learning standards and provide pre-visit material and training for teachers. Use of libraries, museums and historical societies by New Yorkers of all ages continues to grow and more and more of these institutions are providing services that support education and reinforce lessons learned in the classroom. For example, this year over 1.2 million youngsters participated in the Statewide Summer Reading Program and New York museums hosted more than 4 million student visits.


Despite the fundamental role that cultural institutions play in support of learning, and despite the success in 2006 in obtaining a one-time increase in State funding for libraries, ongoing State funding for libraries has not increased since 1998. No State funds were provided in 2006 to sustain and expand NOVELNY, the New York Online Virtual Electronic Library.  Museums and historical societies do not benefit from a dedicated funding mechanism or categorical grant program in the State Education Department.


The Regents’ P-16 strategy envisions collaborations among formal education institutions, libraries, museums, performing arts centers, businesses and social service agencies. Together, USNY and its collaborators can improve student performance and close the gap. How will the Regents work with the legislature and with the education, arts and tourism, and business communities to significantly improve State funding for libraries, museums and historical societies in 2007?


Proposed Handling


Acting Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Education Christine Ward, State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries Janet M. Welch and State Museum Director and Assistant Commissioner for Museums Clifford A. Siegfried will provide an overview of the current library and museum funding situation, the budget and legislative priorities for 2007 and plans for promotion of the $27 million New York Knowledge Initiative proposal and the $30 million Museum Education Act.  Following brief presentations, the Committee will have the opportunity to discuss strategies for improving State funding for libraries, museums and historical societies in 2007.


Procedural History


Each year the Committee revisits Regents priorities and strategies for increasing State funding for cultural institutions. Strong advocacy by Regents and SED leadership has not yet persuaded the Executive and the Legislature sufficiently of the value of libraries and museums in closing the gap and improving student achievement.  


Background Information


The tightly focused $27 million New York Knowledge Initiative: Strong Libraries for Literacy, Learning and Workforce Development has evolved from the broad visionary New Century Libraries Legislative Proposal. The Knowledge Initiative addresses priority funding needs for public library construction and for NOVELNY, two of the ten recommendations in the Regents Commission on Library Services 2000 report, Meeting the Needs of All New Yorkers – Library Service in the New Century.  Information about the New York Knowledge Initiative is now available at .


The $30 million Museum Education Act evolved from the 2005 Education Summit and follow-up discussions with the Museum Association of New York and the New York Council on the Arts.  State funds will support standards-based K-12 educational programs conducted by museums, historical societies and performing arts institutions, either at the institutions or in the schools.




The Regents should identify strategies for increasing State funding for libraries, museums and historical societies in 2007.


Timetable for Implementation


Implementation of strategies should begin immediately and continue throughout the 2007 legislative session.