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Queens Chronicle

Corona Library fights for funding

Read-in event calls attention to programs at risk with $29M in cuts

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Posted: Thursday, May 30, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:34 am, Thu Jun 6, 2013.

Three-year-old Julie Vargas of Corona doesn’t know a thing about municipal budgeting or city politics.

But her dad, Christian, said she loves the Corona Library and the programs offered in the children’s section. “Every day she wakes up and asks, ‘Is it Monday?’” he said.

And while Monday’s programs with parents and little children were moved to Tuesday this week due to the Memorial Day holiday, about two dozen kids and their parents still came out to an event billed as a read-in to protest a proposed $29 million in cuts to the Queens Library system.

Children’s librarian Cameron Myers on Tuesday had his normal fun and educational session with his young charges and their parents, using stories and songs in both English and Spanish to teach about colors, parts of the body and the Itsy-Bitsy Spider’s never-ending yet optimistic quest to get up that old water spout.

But he also expressed serious concerns to the parents about the programs that would be jeopardized should the cuts proffered by Mayor Bloomberg come through.

In past years — even when everyone on the City Council was not running for office and the Council Speaker not running for mayor — the Council has wrung its hands and found much of the funding for libraries, senior centers and fire companies targeted for cuts in the executive budget.

But Myers was not taking any comfort in that just yet. “They haven’t made the cuts in the last two years,” he acknowledged. “But we still have to fight for libraries.”

The read-in took place at the same time as a rally at the Central Library on Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica.

Signs displayed around the children’s section in Corona pleaded the Queens Library’s case for continued funding, and visitors were being encouraged to contact Council members to make themselves heard.

Vilma Raquel Daza, manager of the Corona branch, said the concerns are the same as they are every time significant cuts are in the offing.

“We don’t have Saturday hours here,” she said. “We can’t afford new children’s books. We have eliminated most of our young adult programs.”

She also said cuts would lead to a reduction of hours, with the real possibility of closing at least one more full day per week.

Daza said a reduction of hours and programs would be felt most acutely by neighborhood residents who are from low-income homes.

“Parents who work bring their children here because they know that this is a safe place,” she said. “We help people looking for work prepare resumes. Any day we would shut down is bad.”

Christian Vargas said it isn’t just the special programs, and isn’t all about children.

“I come here for books,” he said.

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