October 20, 2014

Update: NYC Budget Restores Most Library Funding

This article has been updated to include information on the final vote.

The New York City budget restored nearly $90 million of a threatened $96 million cut to public libraries in an agreement announced June 25. The City Council approved the fiscal year 2013 budget agreement on June 28.

The budget also includes more than $100 million in capital funding for the NYPL’s renovation of the Schwarzman building.

“Layoffs have been averted. Every library in every community will remain open at least five days a week,” Queens Library President and CEO Thomas W. Galante said in a statement. The more than 600 library jobs which had been in jeopardy were all saved, though the Queens library will continue a hiring freeze and economies in the new materials budget. Galante thanked the mayor, speaker and council members, as well as Local 1321 Queens Library Guild, Friends of the Library, Urban Librarians Unite, and the more than 85,000 people who signed petitions, wrote postcards, and attended rallies to show support for library funding.

The NYPL’s statement in response to the announcement also thanked the mayor, speaker, and council, as well as patrons, and said, “Over the past five years, libraries have faced significant economic constraints, which have strained the resources we are able to offer our patrons. This year’s budget will ensure that libraries remain open at least five days a week and allow The New York Public Library to continue providing our communities with free essential services such as books, access to computers and the Internet, workshops and programs, job search resources and more.”

“We are very grateful to the City Council, and in particular, the Brooklyn delegation, for its continued support of Brooklyn Public Library. The adopted budget will allow the Library to maintain our existing service levels and avoid layoffs,” said Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library. “Thank you to the countless patrons, volunteers, staff members and elected officials who advocated on the Library’s behalf. Your dedication to our cause is the reason why we will be able to keep our doors open and continue to serve our communities.”

City spokesperson Marc La Vorgna disputed the $96 million number for the initially proposed cuts, saying the reduction was “roughly $92.3 million year over year,” as of May, and characterized the $90 million restoration as “essentially flat.” He told LJ that where the remaining cuts would happen across New York’s three library systems—the New York, Brooklyn, and Queens Public Libraries—would be determined by the council.

 

Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Senior Editor, News and Features of Library Journal.

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Comments

  1. Robert Renwick says:

    I’m a bit puzzled by the statement by Linda E. Johnson that “the adopted budget will allow the Library to maintain our existing service levels . . . .” At the Brooklyn Public Library Central Library the number of reference service points is being reduced as of July 2nd and one of the service points staffed entirely by paraprofessionals. In my view it’s not acceptable to keep buildings open for long hours at the expense of the quality of service provided.