I just learned that ten branches of the New York Public Library (NYPL) are significantly lengthening their hours of public access — a move that is being greeted with joy by students, unemployed job seekers and others who rely upon the NYPL for a safe, quiet and clean place to do research, study, and read, as well as to access to the internet, computers and printers for free, and of course, to borrow books, magazines, film and recordings, and to do who-knows-what-else.
Starting TODAY, 14 September, ten NYPL branches will be open an average of 52.5 hours per week — an increase of 65% since 1990 when the average library was open only 31.9 hours. Never in the history of the NYPL have so many of its locations been open so many hours.
“In difficult economic times, New Yorkers depend even more on our libraries for everything from employment counseling to literacy education and after school programs,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “But none of these great services will do you any good if your library is closed when you get there. The City Council was extremely proud to have successfully preserved funding to maintain library hours in this year’s budget. And now, thanks to the New York Public Library, people all over the city will have even more opportunities to take advantage of everything they offer.”
Hours are being expanded in branches in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the three boroughs served by NYPL. The ten libraries with new hours are the Baychester and Morris Park libraries in the Bronx; Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Mid-Manhattan Library, Jefferson Market, Chatham Square, 58th Street, Morningside Heights and 96th Street libraries in Manhattan; and the Todt Hill library in Staten Island. Expanded hours were previously introduced at the Bronx Library Center and Parkchester libraries in the Bronx; Terence Cardinal Cooke Library and Grand Central Branch in Manhattan; and the St. George Library Center in Staten Island.
This wonderful news gives me a teensy little glimmer of hope that NYC is NOT the exclusive stronghold of money-grubbing landlords, out-of-control investment bankers, vindictive lawyers and bill collectors, as my experiences have led me to believe. It’s about time that our City Council members — all of whom are elected, afterall — start looking out for the best interests of all of their constituency, not just those who are rich enough to be able to contribute to their re-election war chests.