The weeks of rallies at Queens library branches and outcries from tens of thousands of its patrons of all ages have paid off as the city restored 92 percent of the funding in its final budget last week.
The proposed layoffs of Queens Public Library staffers and cuts in service were completely rescinded when the City Council voted to cut $2 million from the library’s budget instead of the proposed $25 million. The restoration of the $23 million in funding is the largest funding restoration at budget adoption in the history of the Queens Library, according to its CEO Thomas Galante.
“Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn and the City Council demonstrated their tremendous commitment to quality library service. They kept public libraries a top priority during a most difficult budget,” he said in a statement.
If the $25 million cuts had been enacted, 500 jobs would have been cut and the hours at branches would have been reduced to as low as two to three days a week. The library has already had to resort to asking for donations from its users to buy new materials for its branches.
Over the last couple of weeks, elected officials staged rallies at several of the Queens Library locations and let their voices be heard. Last month, 95,000 people signed a petition that was sent to City Hall protesting the cuts.
“Every layoff has been averted so library doors can remain open to enrich the lives of New Yorkers,” Galante said.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who chairs the Council Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries & International Intergroup Relations, told his constituents in his newsletter that their work was the main factor for the restoration.
“Thank you for making your voice heard and being an active participant in government,” he said in a statement.
Galante said the library is now looking forward to making improvements and service additions to many of its branches.
“We are turning our attention toward the opening of the new Children’s Library Discovery Center, launching new and improved online services, piloting an e-reader project, installing easy-to-use self-service circulation technology, continuing the largest library renovation and expansion program in our 100 year history and providing all the programs and services that people rely on every day,” he said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@c
©2011 Community News Group
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