Fight to Protect our Public Libraries from the Zombie Economy!

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Let's face it, if you are broke and unemployed in NYC today, you would have nothing constructive to do if Mayor Mike Bloomsberg's proposed budget cuts to the Public library system is enacted. (Although, I suppose you could commit a few crimes, since the police force has also been cut back).

Mayor Bloomberg, the eighth richest person in America, is proposing a 22% funding cut to all three New York City public library systems (NYPL, Brooklyn and Queens). These cuts would eliminate 943 employees, end all weekend service, and the materials budget will be cut by at least 30%. The City Council must approve this budget by June 30.

"At the Brooklyn Public Library, the materials budget would be cut by 30% and service at most branches limited to five hours (1-6 pm) on weekdays, in order to serve students after school," reports the Library Journal. "New York Public Library (NYPL) would reduce average weekly hours of service from 52 to 32 and cut the materials budget by 26% in the Branch Libraries and 35% in the Research Libraries."

The damage caused by this zombie economy is reverberating down into the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of society, resulting in an astonishing 30% increase in library usage and circulation this year alone, as people turn to their public libraries for free entertainment, computer usage and internet access, and for aid in their job searches and career planning.

All branches of the NYC library system are conducting a letter-writing campaign between now and 1 June. If you live in NYC, please stop into your local branch at your convenience and write your letter in support of public libraries, asking Bloomberg to restore library funding and the six/seven day per week hours.

Services on the "chopping block":

  1. 1091 jobs lost, including 943 layoffs
  2. book, journal and magazine purchases and subscriptions will be severely cut back
  3. public computer access will be reduced or, in some branches, become totally unavailable
  4. hours will be severely reduced with no library service available on weekends
  5. some branches may close
  6. free wireless access for the public will be discontinued

If you read or love this blog, remember that I personally rely on NYPL for:

  1. safe, stable and free wireless access, which is essential for;
    • blog research, writing and publishing
    • freelance research and writing as well as seeking more writing assignments
    • job searching
    • email and other forms of communication
    • access to Nature
  2. photocopier and printer usage
  3. DVDs
  4. books
  5. a quiet, clean and safe work environment
  6. a consistent place to go every day

I see many underemployed, unemployed and homeless people at the library every day who, like me, depend upon the library for so many essential things to keep them alive and "fighting the good fight."

Regardless of where you live and work, if you read and enjoy my blog, then you too, will be affected by this drastic budgetary cutback. So please, help me and others who depend upon the public libraries in NYC by contacting Mayor Bloomberg and asking him to restore the library budget and six/seven day public service hours;

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

PHONE: 311 (or, outside NYC, call 212-NEW-YORK)
FAX: (212) 312-0700

If you are a resident of NYC, please write your city council member.


Library Journal.

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I'm 100% unfamiliar with the NYC(-area?) public library system / politics / whatever, but why are there three (presumably separate) systems rather than one area-wide system?

Having three could be good, could be bad, but it sounds inefficient (in the sense of otherwise unnecessary duplication of resources)?

blf, prior to the 1898 consolidation, Brooklyn and Queens were not part of New York City.

Joe, so? Why are there still three? (You could even ask why there were three back then since library-coverage and political-regions needn't be related, but that's besides the pointâ¦.)

Please note I'm not saying have three now is bad. I'm also not saying it's good. It could be either. Or both. Or even perhaps makes no difference at all. What I am wondering is if it's unnecessarily (and significantly?) inefficient?

i have no idea .. i will ask the librarians when i am there this week, though, and report back.

All three libraries are independent entities that serve unique constituencies. Although each receives a majority of their funding from the city, they are chartered as independent organizations and are not part of the city government structure. While consolidating the administrative structures might save money, the cost of that consolidation would be the lack of local control.

This is so penny wise and pound foolish.

It is vastly cheaper to fund an individual's stay at the library than their stay in prison.

I think the savings for consolidation would be nil.

An idea: Perhaps the firms on Wall Street could allow the library to use their internet connections during the evening when the Wall Street firms are closed. It wouldn't cost them anything, and they could buy a gigantic amount of good will with the public.

There is almost nowhere in a city that you are allowed to be at without paying money or being moved on. You cannot simply loiter on the street. Almost all previously public spaces are owned by private interests - shopping malls being the premier example.

Shelters typically turn the people out during the day. Without a library, there is simply nowhere for the poor to go. They can't vanish and dematerialise - so what are they to do? Walk the streets nonstop, round and round the block?

By Paul Murray (not verified) on 17 May 2009 #permalink