Cuts in Hours Announced at New York City Library Systems
Mayor's mid-year budget cut requires immediate response
Norman Oder -- Library Journal, 02/04/2010
- Mid-year cut and proposed cut next year
- NYPL branches to average 45 hours open, down from 51
- Queens Library cut hours in January
New York City Major Mike Bloomberg's announced library budget cut—a "gap closing" for the current fiscal year and proposed reductions for the next fiscal year—has prompted the New York Public Library (NYPL) to cut hours at two-thirds of its branches, leading to an average loss of six open hours a week.
The Queens Library stated that it cut hours last month. (Bloomberg's mid-year cuts were announced this week but ordered in November.) The Brooklyn Public Library has not yet issued a statement.
NYPL said in a statement:
The recent announcement of a $5.9 million mid-year City budget cut has necessitated service reductions by The New York Public Library at two-thirds of its locations across the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island.
The Library has developed a detailed plan to bridge its Fiscal Year 2010 budget gap (intensified by the loss of $900,000 in State aid), carefully reviewing branch locations, peak hours, and demographics to determine cuts that, while difficult, will be minimally disruptive to the communities it serves. In the end, the Library has been left with little choice but to reduce service to an average of 45 open hours per week for its neighborhood sites, down from an average of over 51 hours.
For Fiscal Year 2010, six-day service will be maintained at all of its locations. While Sunday service will be discontinued at five of nine sites, at least one location in each borough will remain open on Sundays. “We have worked very hard to maintain as many services as possible in these tough economic times," said New York Public Library President Dr. Paul LeClerc, “and are struggling to sustain the high level of service our patrons have come to expect.
“The unfortunate reality is that more cuts loom on the horizon, and unless there are substantial changes to City and State financial plans, we will be forced to make extremely difficult choices over the next two years,” he added, citing the recently proposed Fiscal Year 2011 City budget.
The Queens Library, which ended weekend hours at 14 branches last month, almost in anticipation of the cuts, offered a statement that was diplomatically solicitous toward city officials:
We recently announced the suspension of weekend service hours at 14 community libraries. We deeply regret having to take this course of action. It is very painful for everyone. Commitment to public library service in New York City has been a hallmark for Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn, and the entire City Council. Libraries are more important than ever.
Those most deeply affected by an economic downturn are the first ones to come through our doors seeking free library services. These are, however, difficult times. We rely on funding from all levels of government as well as grants and philanthropy from non-public sources to deliver library service, but we must face today’s tough economic realities: City funding to Queens Library has been reduced by $11.5 million and State funding by $1 million.