July 1st, and the NYC library budget

July 1st, next Friday, is the deadline that the New York City Council has to pass through the city budget for the fiscal year of 2011-2012. I’ve wrote several times about the situation that the libraries are facing with the proposed budget cuts. In this entry I’ll go over what the last few months have been and how nerve wracking the wait has come to be.  On twitter there is a feature that allows you to alert people that you post about, and I’ll try to tweet the Mayor on this one.

For May at work a lot of my and my colleagues energies went into the Boardwalk Rally for Books that we had on May 21st.  Councilmen Eric Ulrich, James Sanders, and other people from the community spoke at this. I spoke briefly, and even though I cut my speech short out of nervousness I did mention the lack of Saturday service in several Rockaway libraries.

Now I’ll expand on that idea. In 2007 the library budget was increased to include 6 days a week service city wide. So all libraries were opened at least Monday through Saturday. To me that is an ideal amount, and only having 5 days a week of library service in most locations is a disservice to those communities.  Even though last year most of the proposed budget cuts were restored, they was enough of a cut to slimmer down to 5 day  a week service at most locations. The library I work at was under renovation when that was implemented, so we reopened with one less day a week of service. Monday through Friday we have people using the computers, reading papers, doing job searches, checking out books and they are in there for other reasons. But for people that work during the week, visiting the library has become more difficult. To me 5 days a week of service is not ideal, and should be considered a minimum. People would have to look elsewhere for the many services that libraries provide with less than 5 days a week of service.

On May 26th I went to a rally at City Hall for Queens Library.  We took a bus from the Rockaways, and it was good to see library supporters. At this rally about 10 or so city council members spoke including Jimmy Van Bremer. From this rally and the Boardwalk for Books rally I think that the libraries are on the agenda for city council.

In June I went to two Urban Librarian Unite events. One was on June 4th and was titled ‘Hug the Library.’  This even was at the main New York Public library, and the goal was to have a human chain, arm in arm, around the entire library. I wrote a blog entry about it earlier with pictures. Even though the entire library was not circled, it had a good energy and I believe conveyed a positive message.  The second Urban Librarians Unite event I went to was the 24 hour read in. I saw the last two hours of the event. About 5 of the ULU crew stayed on site for a full 24 hours from 4pm on Saturday June 11th to 4 pm on Sunday June 12th. It rained and apparently the wind was treacherous, but they did not cancel and made a good statement.

Throughout the Queens Library system several libraries had rallies, and our Union helped out greatly with most of them. There has been a agreement with a lot of us to raise awareness that libraries are important and the proposed cuts would cripple services. Libraries are being used heavily in New York City, and before the cuts from last year the circulation and usage justified 6 days a week of service. Less than 5 days a week service, which would happen with deep cuts, would simply take available resources away from New Yorkers.

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