I just wanted to thank all of you, dear readers, who have joined with me to write letters to Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officials in NYC, asking them to see the light: a bad economy is absolutely no reason to cut funding for our public libraries, the crown jewel of New York City. I just learned this evening that Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn have promised they will preserve essential core resources for fiscal year 2010, including precious funds for libraries (fiscal year 2010 starts in a few days, on 1 July 2009). According to the newspapers, the way they plan to do this is to increase NYC sales tax by 0.5% (although nothing is in writing as of this time).
Even though the sales tax is already very high in NY state and especially in NYC, I think this is a valid way to preserve precious public resources in this time of economic upheaval. Raising sales taxes are preferable to abandoning the most vulnerable citizens to unemployment, homelessness and despair without any public support; a grave injustice that will destroy the very fabric of what makes NYC — and this nation — great. I hope that you join with me as I congratulate Speaker Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg for doing the ethically correct thing by protecting those who have the least.
“Restoring funding to our City’s public libraries proves Speaker Quinn’s deep and abiding commitment to all that libraries promote: employment, literacy, community activism and so much more,” said Libraries Subcommittee Chair Vincent Gentile. “Fully funded libraries help communities and residents weather economic hardship, and on behalf of the tens of thousands of supporters of public libraries, I want to thank the Speaker for helping to keep neighborhoods and households strong in the coming fiscal year.”
Six day library service will be maintained at libraries across the City. The $46.5 million dollar restoration will allow libraries to avoid layoffs and ensure that New Yorkers have access to critically important job training services during the economic downturn, in addition to preserving access to vital services such as literacy programs and increased access to technology.
“Despite the hardships facing our city, I’m proud to say that we’ve reached a budget agreement that makes difficult but necessary decisions to keep our city afloat through this crisis,” said Councilman Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries & International Intergroup Relations. “We’ve avoided devastating cuts to our cultural institutions, which are a major economic engine, generating jobs, tourism and tax revenue. We’ve maintained our commitment to cultural educational programs, like Urban Advantage and the Cultural After School Adventure Program. I’m also pleased to announce we’re making a major investment in our library system. Not only are we avoiding layoffs, but New Yorkers will still have access to their libraries six days a week. That means access to free services like technology and job training that are so important, now more than ever.”