March 17, 2018

NYC PLs Fear Effect of More Cuts

By LJ Staff

Proposed cuts in both city and state support for New York City’s three public library systems-the New York Public Library (NYPL), the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), and the Queens Borough Public Library (QBPL)-will have devastating effects, officials say. Library directors and union leaders testified last week before the City Council, which is considering 6.5% in cuts, more than half of that percentage linked to labor concessions requested by Mayor Mike Bloomberg. The libraries have already experienced 14.5% in cuts in the past fiscal year. Moreover, the state budget proposes a reduction in Library Aid of 15%. The libraries have already cut hours and materials significantly; they have frozen hiring and not replaced those who’ve retired.

NYPL President Paul LeClerc testified before the City Council last week, saying the city and state cuts would cause a loss of nearly $10 million, forcing the library to lose six-day service at its 14 regional branches. In a memo to staff, he warned of layoffs, with a loss of as many as 110 positions. Gary Strong, director of QBPL, testified said the library anticipates needing to cut 144 positions, either by attrition or layoffs. Both the Queens and Brooklyn systems would lose more than $4 million in city funding and $1 million in state funding. Strong said the library branches may have to move to a less than five-day service schedule. BPL has already cut hours 16% and materials nearly 25%; further reductions would cut programs and staff and possibly eliminate seven-day service at the Central Library for the first time in over a decade.

Union officials also testified against the cuts. Ray Markey of the New York Public Library Guild emphasized that the NYPL had concentrated its staff reductions in the branch libraries, not the parallel research library system, which is mainly funded privately. He argued that NYPL should use its large endowment to prevent branch library layoffs.