Oneida County-Funded Library Initiatives Announced

Nearly $50,000 Allotted for Books for Babies and Summer Reading Programs & eBooks

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr., along with the directors of the Mid York Library System, Jervis and Utica Public Libraries and Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter, announced today that nearly $50,000 in county funding has been allotted to institute multiple library initiatives.

Picente announced $47,500 to support library initiatives in his 2018 budget address. The money was made possible due to the gaming revenue collected as part of the Oneida Nation settlement agreement. It will go toward funding a Books for Babies Program, increasing the collection of eBooks and digital audio books and a Summer Reading Program.

“Our libraries are an irreplaceable resource to this community,” Picente said. “Thanks to our partnership with Mr. Halbritter and the Oneida Nation, we have been able to increase funding to our libraries over the past few years. This money has led to the development of new programs such as those announced today and has helped immensely to strengthen the literacy of our youth and adults.”

"The Oneida Indian Nation's businesses are directly tied to Central New York and we are proud to share our success with the local community through investments that facilitate important projects like this expansion of library services," said Oneida Indian Nation Representative and Nation Enterprises CEO Ray Halbritter. “This is the latest example that our collaboration with Oneida County, through the leadership of County Executive Picente, continues to produce meaningful results that make the region a better place to live, work and raise families.”

The $25,000 that will be put toward the Books for Babies program will provide a free book to every Oneida County newborn. The initiative is designed to engage parents in the important process of exposing children to reading print books at an early age.

"Engaging with the primary adults in a child's life has proven to be one of the most effective means of improving early literacy skills,” said Chris Sagaas, Director of the Utica Public Library. “The Books for Babies program gives Oneida County libraries the opportunity to work with parents and community caregivers early on to reinforce the essential literacy skills necessary for development."

In order to increase the eBook and digital audiobook collections of the county’s libraries, $15,000 will be used to purchase more copies that can be accessed on computer tablets and eBook readers.

“The county’s public libraries are honored to partner with Oneida County to fortify efforts to address traditional and digital literacy from multiple angles,” said Lisa Matte, Director of Jervis Public Library. “In 2017, circulation of digital materials at Jervis exceeded 20,000 items for the first time, accounting for just under 10% of items borrowed from Jervis. The investment in additional materials will reduce constituents’ wait time for popular titles and increase the number of books they will be able to read each month.”

$7,500 will go toward purchasing books that will be used and distributed to area youth as part of various summer reading programs.

"On behalf of Mid York and the 21 Oneida County Public Libraries, we appreciate the County Executive and Legislators for their support of these new library services initiatives,” said Wanda R. Bruchis, Executive Director of the Mid York Library System. “Mid York is chartered to serve all the residents of Oneida County and our mission is to help our libraries improve and expand library services. These initiatives help us do that."

Photo Caption: (L-R) Mid York Library System Executive Director Wanda R. Bruchis, Rome Mayor Jacqueline Izzo, Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter, Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr., Utica Public Library Director Chris Sagaas, and Jervis Public Library Director Lisa Matte hold the book that will be given to every Oneida County newborn as part of the county-funded Books for Babies program. (Photo taken at the Jervis Public Library in Rome on March 27, 2018)