Libraries are up against the wall again facing the largest budget cuts in the history of New York City. 106 million dollars in cuts. That’s a 35% cut over last year’s funding levels.These cuts, should they go through, will fundamentally change the face of libraries in the five boroughs. More than sixty libraries will closed and shuttered. There will be massive layoffs resulting in disastrous cuts to hours and services. What would a city without libraries look like? There would be one less place for seniors, teens, or kids to safely hang out in the urban landscape. In the case of seniors that means more shut ins, kids would be that much less safe after school and teens would have that much more incentive to seek out trouble with nothing to do. Some of the main providers of ESOL would be put out of commission so fewer people would be able to learn English and improve their lot and that of their families and communities. There would be fewer tools for entrepreneurs so fewer startup business would germinate in the city. The main source of free computer training would be wiped out at a stroke as would free job seeking and job readiness training.
Books and storytime and DVDs and music and free concerts and all that stuff, well that is all going to go away too of course. If you use the library as a place to borrow free stuff and learn things on your own that is going to be an awful lot more difficult. There will be less materials and it will be a lot harder to get them.
Every year we see these kinds of devastating budget cuts and every year we fight like hell and get almost everything back. There is always some smallish final cut of a few million dollars here and a few million dollars there. This results in a few less jobs, a few less resources, a few less hours and yet the NEED for the library in the city grows daily.
It is this genuine need that forces us to always consider these political maneuverings as genuine threats. We must then always respond to these threats aggressively even when it is clear to everyone from the Mayor down that libraries are essential to New York City. Libraries are intrinsically woven into our community fabric and it is essential that our community rise to stand for them in times when they are under assault.
Will YOU stand with your library? Will you bend your shoulder to the wheel to help keep those doors open and the reference desk manned? We need your help, can we rely on you to support libraries in New York City? Fill out the form here and get involved today!