Library Budget Happy Dance FY16

Thank You!


It’s starting to feel real now. In June, libraries in NYC received an additional 43 million dollars in operating funding, something we have been fighting for for 6 years.

  • Libraries in all the boroughs will now be open 6 days a week.
  • Librarians and support staff are being hired en-mass for the first time in what feels like forever
  • Book budgets are coming back!

It’s completely awesome and a little bit overwhelming, but real. Definitely real.

We did it. YOU did it. Thank you to all the letter writers, elected official callers, 24 hour read in readers, postcard collectors, researchers, petition signers and city council testifiers. You were so loud that libraries couldn’t be ignored.

Thank you to the City Council, the Mayor’s office, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, Special Library Committee Chair Costa Constantinides and Finance Committee Chair Julissa Ferreras. Thank you to all of their staff who drive so much of the work of government.

Thank you to the Revson Foundation and the Center for an Urban Future, for providing the research and data that we all needed to make the case airtight.

Thank you to DC37, the library locals and all of the hardworking library staff who pushed so hard this year. Thank you to the board of Urban Librarians Unite, who worked so hard to slog through the planning and funding for ULU’s efforts this year.

And thank you, (specifically from me) to Christian Zabriskie, who has busted his ass on advocacy for the past 6 years,  even when it wasn’t easy or popular, when people asked him why he was bothering, he just never freaking stopped.

We have such an amazing opportunity. Libraries in NYC have always been some of the most amazing in the country, and now we have a chance to kick that up a notch. With additional staff and hours of service, we can be the community opportunity engines we all want to be.

Lets do this.

Lauren Comito
Chair – Urban Librarians Unite

Posted in Library Advocacy

Join Us!


It has been an amazing library advocacy season and along the way we have had LOTS of people ask how to get more involved in what we do. That’s great because we are always doing LOTS.

Some things that you can get involved in starting right now:

Guerrilla Storytime at Socrates Sculpture Park – We will be doing storytime in the park from 2-4 every Saturday in July and August. No storytime experience necessary, we will give you all the training that you need. It’s a great way to get some children’s library experience while enjoying the awesome park in the sunny summer weather.

MiniLibraries – we have four of our MiniLibraries online now and will be looking to expand it out to six or more in the coming months. They are in Brooklyn and Queens and we need folks who would be willing to refill them (and possibly host them as we expand).

The Urban Librarians’ Conference – each year we put on an amazing conference for working frontline librarians in urban centers. We need volunteers to help us find speakers, plan sessions, and help run the conference on the day.

The 24 Hour Read-In – We just finished it and we are already planning for next year. This is a huge event that takes tons of work even months in advance. Help us make it bigger and better every year!

Bookcart Drill Team – Everybody loves a parade, come join us as we start our own library parade crew marching whereever they will have us.

ULU Happy Hour – meeting the third Tuesday of every month this ongoing social event is where ULU got its roots. Come out and have a few drinks, talk about how much you love patrons, about how much you hate patrons, and about how you wish people would stop asking you what you are reading right now.

We are a fun group who are very open to whatever ideas you have for libraries in the city. Please come out and join us. You can sign up here!


Posted in Uncategorized

2015 Read In Was Amazing!


Thank you to EVERYONE who made the 2015 24 Hour Read-In a huge success this year.

We had amazing amounts of foot traffic, blew up the mayor’s twitter, and generally had an amazing year of 24 hour advocacy outside of City Hall.

We got great press and a lot of attention from all the right places. Lauren even got to harass the mayor (again, she LOVES doing that).

The time to keep the pressure up is now. Please go to Invest In Libraries and contact your local political leaders as well as the mayor’s office, the City Council, and anyone else who will listen.

We collected HUNDREDS of postcards in just that one day and we are speaking up for tens of thousands of New Yorkers who use the library every day. We need your voices raised in our final push to make strong library budgets a reality.


Posted in Uncategorized

Watch the 2015 24 Hour Read In @ City Hall

Watch us ALL NIGHT LONG (and into the day on Wednesday too)! Once again we are reading around the clock, if you can’t make it to City Hall to support us in person then check out our livestream. You can join us virtually (and while you are at it would be great if you can tweet, email, or generally shout it out from the rooftops).

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Posted in Uncategorized

Why Libraries Are Effective Instruments for Social Change

We have been advocating for libraries for years and it always comes up in conversation that libraries are “book warehouses” or that we are outdated in the time of Google and ebooks. This could not be further from the truth. Here at Urban Librarians Unite we apply a lot of Library Science to the work we do. These are how we see libraries DIRECTLY addressing some of the most pressing issues in New York City every single day.

Services to Older Adults
New York City’s libraries offer many special programs and events tailored to the 50+ audience. These include lectures, films, performances and educational programs that reflect the wide interests of today’s older adults. Library outreach staff regularly visit nursing homes, senior centers, and adult care centers to run programs and loan books and other library materials.

ESOL/Citizens/New Americans
New York’s branch libraries provide a wide array of services for immigrants and are perhaps the most trusted government institution by foreign-born New Yorkers. Libraries offer English training for those who are not native speakers, preparation for the U.S. citizenship test and computer literacy classes. The libraries partner with immigrant and community groups to put on a wide variety of events and classes, from financial literacy seminars to courses on parenting, health and immigrant and tenant rights. In Queens, the library’s New Americans Program (NAP) organizes nearly 80 cultural programs each year. These programs include festivals, dance shows, music events, performances and much more.

Early Childhood Services
Everyday thousands of children in New York City participate in engaging, structured, intellectually stimulating programming provided for free at libraries. Recent studies have shown that early childhood education plays an even greater part in development than previously thought. Libraries in New York City provide hundreds of free programs every week for all ages of children starting as young as 6 months.

Homelessness/Social Services
Thousands of homeless or at-risk individuals and families turn to New York City libraries for vocational and educational resources, health services, citizenship workshops, and food and housing information every day. In addition to offering these programs at library locations and on digital platforms, the library systems have partnered with the Department of Education, the Department of Homelessness Services, non-profit organizations, and shelters to increase access to education, technology, and community resources for all New Yorkers. Queens Library has developed an app called WhereinQueens which allows homeless individuals to find and access food, shelter, education, family, and social services right from their phone.

After School Services For Young Adults
Teenagers and young people in New York City need structured activities and a safe space after school. Libraries provide an open, free, inclusive space where young adults can explore interests, create art, prepare for college, get homework help, and have an interested and invested older adult looking out for them. Libraries provide active and engaging programming for teens for everything from technology, to sewing, to college test preparation.

Tech Training/Job Readiness
Libraries are technology training and job readiness hubs. They are working to educate the public in technology training and classes as well as providing direct technology support through lending tablets and wifi hotspots to put internet access directly in people’s homes. Libraries are providing small businesses with start up resources and training as well as providing competitive intelligence to entrepreneurs. Libraries in New York City have a direct and substantial impact on the growth of business in our city.

Posted in Uncategorized

Support ULU

Urban Librarians Unite continues to grow as one of the leading library support organizations in the country. Your donations go directly to our work supporting libraries and training library staff. Every dollar you give helps us reach more people and do more awesome stuff to support libraries and librarians in urban settings

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