The Desmond-Fish Public Library

Request for Support

May 21, 2019 at the Garrison School

7am - 9pm

“We wish to establish a community library, open to all the people. It will start as a small acorn, and will soon become a sturdy oak for community service, learning, and education.”  Alice Curtis Desmond, 1980


At the Desmond-Fish Public Library, we have a far-reaching mission.


We were founded to help you explore ideas and knowledge, connect with neighbors and people around our country and the world, and discover new technologies, resources, and solutions to problems.  We ensure that everyone has free and equal access to the world of literature and to all the essential knowledge that fuels curiosity and creativity. Our dedicated staff and resources serve to empower the lives of everyone in our community, from the fundamentals of early literacy to lifelong learning programs that foster informed citizenship, civic engagement, and workforce development.

As a welcoming place open freely to all, where ideas are safely shared and all voices are respected, we sustain democracy. We ask you, our neighbors and patrons, to sustain us.

The DFPL, a not-for-profit association library, is part of the New York State system of public libraries. It was chartered in 1977 and opened in 1980 thanks to a large gift from  Alice Curtis Desmond. That endowment enabled the Library to function for many years with no financial support from the public. Gradually, as the Library grew - and as the endowment value fluctuated - the Library Trustees, in order to  expand the collection, add technology, pay professional staff, and maintain the buildings and grounds, have done more and more private fundraising. Help has come from the invaluable  Friends of the DFPL, the Town of Philipstown, and Putnam County, but these sources are small in relation to the Library’s overall budget and subject to change.


Meanwhile, the New York State Education Department, which charters all libraries in New York State, increasingly directs all those libraries to be supported with public taxpayer funding to reflect the critical role that libraries play in communities and their mission to serve the public.

Support from the endowment is not sufficient to fund today’s technology-heavy Library needs.

In 2014, for the first time in 35 years, the DFPL asked taxpayers in the Garrison School District to vote for taxpayer support. Garrison responded positively and since then the Library has received $75,000 annually in public funding.  That support was critical and helped maintain the services which the community demands and on which you have come to rely.

However, $75,000 is only 13% of the DFPL annual 2019 budget of $568,000. Total public support from taxpayers, plus Town and County funds, is less than 20%. In the rest of New York State, public support is close to 80%, and libraries raise additional taxes every few years.



Beginning in 2016, the Trustees held a series of “Community Conversations” in our Library and at different locations around our service area. In 2017, we developed a survey that was taken by Library patrons and members of the public. What we learned from all these inputs was incorporated in the goals of our Long-Range Plan, adopted in 2018, and available at


Community demand for services has outgrown the former funding model that relied on non-recurring income from fundraising to support operations. To be responsive to what patrons want, the Library needs stability in its funding in order to invest in technology, add programs and services, and repair and renew our indoor and outdoor spaces.


For the second time in 40 years,  the Desmond-Fish Public Library is  asking the public for funding. Our goal is for Garrison residents to invest in our Library to a total support level of $300,000 - only 45% of our 2020 budget of $678,000.  The Board will continue to fundraise, and the Library’s endowment will still provide significant support.

The Library is for the people and should be supported by the people. It is a public good, not a charity, and through this referendum will be sustained by the public, with equitable access for all. We all benefit from and and are all responsible for its success.

The Value the DFPL Provides Now:

  • Free access to a diverse collection of over 3 million books, CDs, DVDs, magazines, newspapers, eBooks and downloadable audiobooks

  • Equal access to WiFi, public computers, and printing, copying, and fax services

  • Free programs, public services, and technology resources for all ages

  • Meeting, exhibition and performance space for community members

  • Knowledgeable staff to help with research, homework, and one-on-one computer help

The  Additional Value the DFPL Will Provide with Sustainable Funding:


We believe all residents have the right to access equitable library services without barriers. To that end, a successful vote will enable us to fulfill our Long-Range Plan Goals:


  • Meet patrons’ diverse demands for expanded access to information and resources:

    • Free access to 24/7 online resources, including online courses and streaming video

    • Expanded technology offerings in our Innovation and Learning Center

    • Create a shared “Library of Things” collection - museum passes to garden tools

    • Improved book, media, and digital collections

  • Improve the library’s accessibility and services for all members of the community:

    • Professional, accessible, and mobile-friendly website with 24/7 library resources

    • Removal of the barrier of library fines

    • Expanded services for young children

    • Enhanced support for people of all  abilities

    • Staff support and programs for teen patrons

    • Expanded Summer Reading and year-round programming

    • Building and grounds that reflect the environmental values of the community

  • Sustain the future of the Library by dedicated investment in

    • Regular maintenance and repair of our building and grounds

    • Lowering our carbon footprint and offsetting future energy costs

    • Upgrading and expanding technology resources to stay current with new developments and patron requirements


The Consequences if the Referendum Does Not Pass:


The Library will not be able to sustain the level of service we currently offer. The endowment will suffer depletion and patrons will potentially experience:

  • Cuts to Library hours

  • Less one-on-one computer and reference help

  • Smaller book and media collection

  • Fewer programs for children

  • Further deterioration of building and grounds

To Consider


The additional amount requested in taxpayer support is $225,000. The tax rate for total Desmond-Fish Public Library support will be $0.64 per thousand, or approximately $323 a year - less than $1 per day - for a home assessed at $500,000.


The DFPL Board of Trustees goal in seeking this amount of referendum support is to avoid the necessity of coming back to the taxpayers in a few years. We are also pursuing long-range possibilities of reducing our expenses by using State grant funds for a solar project that will decrease our utility costs. With careful budgeting, spending, and fundraising, we anticipate this support will sustain us far into the future.



845-424-4061 (fax)