New York City loves its libraries. People are passionate about them, they feel a connection to their libraries, and have a deep personal ownership over them. New Yorkers don’t like to have their libraries messed with. They want them to have more resources and be able to do more. New Yorkers love libraries and we are looking to our political leadership to support that love.
There is, unfortunately, a Tale of Two Cities to be told about libraries in New York City. There are flagship libraries and there are branch libraries and the branch libraries are understaffed, underfunded, and breaking down. The libraries themselves continue to do incredible work even in difficult circumstances and the staff are dedicated even when they are too few.
End the tale of two libraries by funding and expanding us. Library budgets are flat from last year’s budget which is down from the three years prior. While some are saying that the budget dance is over libraries are still doing a jig. Yes we have been baselined, but we have been baselined at 8% lower than we were ten years ago and 20% lower than we were in 2008.
Libraries are the single most democratic institution in New York City. We are a bridge of opportunity, we are aids in time of trouble, we are a safe haven for seniors and a place of potential for youth. There is no door that is more readily opened in the City and there is no place else with so much to offer any and all who pass over the threshold.
It is time to talk seriously about branch libraries. It is time to focus on the community libraries that are within walking distance of nearly each and every New Yorker. We need more resources, we need more staff, we need more funding to shore up our infrastructures and provide modern facilities for our users.
Come check out our stories at the Savenyclibraries.org website where we are talking about the moments that librarians and patrons share. We are calling for an additional $65 Million in funding for the three library systems, six day service for all libraries, and new hiring at all three institutions. Please support this by signing our petition here.