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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Here We Go Again...

The advocacy season is upon us. NYC's preliminary budget has been discussed. And once again, things are looking pretty grim for NYC libraries. A cut of $106.7 million dollars has been proposed - you can read the testimony of the library heads here. I don't think I need to remind you of how devastating this kind of cut would be. 

Here's a highlight (although it's more like a lowlight, amiright?): 

"Despite our record of resourcefulness, this year’s City budget proposal, is the largest reduction NYC libraries have ever faced: A 35% reduction below current funding, or $106.7 million. This is a staggering 51% below 2008, when every city library was funded to be open at least 6 days a week. This comes at a critical time when library usage and demand is clearly on the rise. We cannot sustain another funding reduction. There is nowhere else to cut. In short, the effects on library hours and workforce will be drastic. Citywide:

•            1,445 staff members will be laid off and another 124 lost to attrition.
•            At least 66 libraries will be closed altogether and dozens of others will have their hours drastically slashed.
•            Today, the average library in New York City is open about 44 hours per week. This proposal would bring that average down to a dismal 22 hours per week. This is certainly not sufficient to serve working families and students."

This is ridiculous. This is wrong. This is something we cannot let happen. In terms of what YOU can do to help: there will be petitions to sign and events to attend and letters to write. I will keep you posted on what you can do as these things are confirmed. In the meantime, so I can feel like I am doing WHATEVER I can do, I am going to be compiling quotes on my blog from NYC residents about how they use their libraries - this will be sort of an "open letter" to Mayor Bloomberg that can be shared (and that I will actually mail if I get enough responses).

If you'd like to contribute a line or two, please comment on this post, tweet at me, or email me at I want everyone to see that these libraries ARE being used and need to be fully funded and adequately staffed.

Also, if you want to email Mayor Bloomberg directly (which I fully encourage!) and tell him NOT to cut library funding, here's the link:

We are going to fight these cuts. We are going to show the mayor that NYC needs its libraries. We are going to do this until we're blue in the face. Because we're New Yorkers, dammit. We don't sit back and let things happen to us. We make them happen. 

Thank you. 


  1. Libraries are so important, especially in lower income areas--of which NYC has plenty! When we contemplate cutting budgets for libraries, it's as if we are contemplating eliminating school time for students, computer time for folks applying for jobs, adult education centers, community meeting places...the library is so much more than a book repository, though that is, of course, a prime purpose still.

    For myself, I use the library as a meeting place, a working place, a place of quiet away from the craziness out in the world where I can do my own work with resources I could not get elsewhere.

  2. Yes, it's pulling the rug out from under those who need services the most. It's just wrong. Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. While I am not a NYC resident, I can speak to the general need of libraries in this country. Libraries are, in my humble opinion, a critical service to people, much as police, firefighters, and EMTs are. While libraries cannot chase criminals, extinguish fires, or perform CPR, libraries can teach us law, fire safety and training, and medical techniques. Better still, libraries offer hope, something in short supply and high demand in America. How many leaders began as a small child wandering the wonderful labyrinth of his or her local library? How incredible was that sense of mystery? How many things were possible in those hallowed halls? How many future leaders currently live in homes without the means to afford books and media? Where will these future leaders go if libraries' budgets are slashed, taking away both the facilities and the employees who want nothing more than to share the love of reading with people? Libraries are, indeed, necessary.

    As always, I am appalled when any government is fine with increasing military budgets yet cannot even maintain the budget of such a necessary group of organizations like the New Your Public Library system. Speak up now; speak for yourself; speak for your young self; and speak for all those who do not have access to this blog and who, possibly soon, will have access to even less. Let's not just hope this will never come to be. Let's make sure it never comes to be.

  4. In the testimony you refer to in your blog (from the three library system directors/presidents, there are many successful programs/projects the library has instituted for all ages that has been successful for the people in their communities. With the highly diminished budget, these programs would disappear or be shadows of their former selves. I think mentioning these type of programs to the City Council and having the Council tell the mayor this could be a big help.

  5. I LOVE my branch library at Tompkins Square Park. The librarians there are so cheerful and willing to help, the collection is diverse and chosen with TSP-area residents in mind, and the computers are always being used by people who need them for tasks like filling out job applications and looking up tax information. As for me, I visit my branch to pick up books for weekend reading, meet other East Village folks, and as a place to work and get inspiration. I only wish that it was open more hours during the week — it's really a treasure. If its hours were to get cut again or, God forbid, it shut down, the city would have me and a lot of other East Village residents to answer to. We love it and some of us depend on it!

    1. These are all exellent reasons to maintain library funding! Thanks!

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