A group of close to 200 New York City library advocates, made up of library leaders, trade union representatives, City Council members, students, and others, protested the proposed $42 million budget cuts on the city’s libraries on Monday, March 20th. Protestors were seen holding up placards with pro-library statements. The budget for the city’s libraries will be reduced by 9%, equating to $42 million, because of Mayor Eric Adams’ budget proposal for the next fiscal year and the city’s Program to Eliminate the Gap.
A cut in the library’s budget would result in the loss of jobs and a reduction in working hours for staff members. Library branches and the programs provided there would also be reduced or cut.
“New York’s public libraries have risen to meet many of the challenges we are facing as a city. We want to keep up this work, but these cuts will impact our operations across the board, whether it be the capacity to open new branches, keep our current hours, maintain our collections, or offer programs. If this budget becomes a reality we are going to have to make tough choices about what we can and can’t provide our patrons. No one wants that,” said Anthony W. Marx, President of The New York Public Library.
The public library advocates were eager to highlight the important work that the city libraries do and their significant role in many communities. Libraries provide easy access to books and a suitable space for academic and research work. They also provide free Wi-Fi, access to computers, and after-school programs.
“We all know the critical role libraries play in keeping people connected, bridging the digital divide, and ensuring people of all ages and backgrounds have access to safe spaces and free resources. A trusted place where they can learn English, find resume help, or simply escape into a good book. Libraries and the people who work in them are crucial to the well-being of our great city. If these deep cuts proceed, we will have to make agonizing decisions regarding service hours, programming, and our collections. I’m energized by the overwhelming support we have received from thousands of New Yorkers who are standing with us to urge the City to support our libraries.” said Linda E. Johnson, President & CEO of Brooklyn Public Library.
New York City’s libraries and public schools have faced budget cuts that have affected their manner of operation. Mayor Adams will be continuing to negotiate with the City Council over the next few weeks about the city’s final budget.