What was once a devastating budget forecast for New York City libraries in 2016 is now a cause for celebration, or at least a reason for librarians to breathe a sigh of relief. On late Monday night, the New York City Council approved an additional $39 million for all branches operating within the five boroughs, in what represents a pretty sharp turnaround from the mayor’s office original plan to significantly cut library funding in next year’s budget.
The new funding “will enable universal six-day service throughout the 217 branches across the city’s three systems—the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), New York Public Library (NYPL), and Queens Library (QL)—as well as extended hours at many locations, and will translate in to approximately 500 new jobs. In addition, the de Blasio administration has committed to a $300 million ten-year capital budget for libraries” reports Library Journal.
The revamped funding package represents the largest subsidy ever granted to New York City Public Libraries. As the mayor’s office originally planned to axe $10 million worth of library funds for next year’s budget, the new deal sounds like divine intervention to New York Public Library President Anthony Marx, who issued a statement, saying:
“We are so grateful to all the New Yorkers who rallied to support their libraries, and to our city leaders who today provided the largest ever combined increase in operating and capital funding for public libraries. We extend our most sincere thank you to Mayor de Blasio, City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council Finance Chair Ferreras, Majority Leader and Cultural Affairs Chair Van Bramer, Sub-Committee on Libraries Chair Constantinides and all the members of the Council.
With this increase libraries can deliver so much more. Our City’s libraries can now be open six days, providing more books, librarians and educational programs throughout the 217 branches across five boroughs. This historic increase provides great momentum for even further opportunities and will also inspire our private donors to bring this historic partnership to a new level with their own generosity.”
The victory on behalf of libraries was not without struggle, however. When news of the mayor’s thinning Executive Budget was announced last May, libraries employees began to act. Using resources across social media and with help from various literary icons, their efforts eventually prevailed.
“The three library systems held rallies across the city, tweeted inspirational messages with the hashtag #investinlibraries, conducted an online letter-writing campaign, and rounded up signatures and testimonials from noted authors including Judy Blume, Robert Caro, Junot Diaz, Toni Morrison, and Tom Wolfe,” Library Journal Reports.
[H/T Library Journal]
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