Don't Balance Budget on Backs of Libraries
by Albert Baldeo
05.31.11 - 05:29 pm
The attainment of knowledge is the greatest gift we can give to our children, and libraries are the gardens that nourish the intellectual bloom they need to compete and succeed.

Moreover, libraries are an essential source of information, education, literacy, jobs and job readiness programs. In Queens, we have the highest circulation of any library in the nation, and the citywide budget battle to restore library funding across the five boroughs will inflict unnecessary pain upon the annual 14 million library users of all ages.

We simply cannot endure the proposed drastic budget cuts that will result in more than 470 layoffs, closure of 14 local branches and reduction of hours at an additional 34 locations - a new record low.

We simply cannot balance the budget on the backs of our children, or shut out the many unemployed people who use the library’s computers to find jobs or the many kids who do their homework in our libraries after school.

The proposed city budget currently includes about $23.5 million in budget cuts for Queens Library. In all, a total of $28.3 million in funding has been cut from Queens Library’s budget since 2008, when funding was provided to keep all libraries open on Saturdays.

During this past year, funding cuts caused the closure of all community libraries on Sundays, and the library’s workforce has been reduced by 160 jobs through attrition.

Schools, public safety, libraries, firehouses and health services are the last bastions of civilization. We simply cannot compromise these. They are clearly not options in these pressing times.


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