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Falls library only gets reprieve <br> Longer-term solution will take hard work by city to pay for system

The Niagara Falls Public Library appears to have survived a life-and-death struggle with the city that funds it, but as things stand, it has survived only to fight a more difficult battle next year.

Niagara Falls has only two libraries, the main building and a small branch in the LaSalle District. The city threatened both in recent months by trying to cheat the system out of promised money and voters turned down a proposal to give the library authority to tax. The library board sued the city and this week, a judge ordered the city to pay the $1 million it had withheld.

But that development provides no more than a little breathing room, because Niagara Falls is in a real financial squeeze.

As the city copes with the court decision and plans for next year, it must focus on the fundamentals -- including a functioning library -- and a commitment to spending no more than is necessary. That doesn't mean the library can have everything it wants; like everyone else, it will have to retrench. But the idea of a city this size without a library is unthinkable.

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