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Queens Chronicle

PS 111 students protest library cuts

City budget to be approved by July 1

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Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 2:38 pm, Thu Jun 28, 2012.

Students from Voice Charter School and PS 111 chanted “Mayor Bloomberg, give the money back” on June 14 at the Long Island City branch of the Queens Library rally protesting a potential $26.7 million cut.

Less funding could force the library to layoff 605 people, close 18 branches and force some libraries to open only one to three days a week, according to the Queens Library spokeswoman.

“We can’t take any more cuts,” said Communications Director Joanne King, adding that Queens Library funding has decreased 42 percent since 2008. “We’re down to the bone.”

The library threw a “broke-down carnival” for the students. There was a bean bag tossing game with some of the holes labeled “closed today.” The game was meant to dramatize how the cuts could translate into fewer hours during which members of the community could visit.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Kailey Duran, 10, a student at PS 111 who says she visits the Long Island City library every day after school. “The library is about community and fun activities.”

Jennifer Balbuene, 9, said she frequents the library and relies on it as a place to do research for school work.

The library provides books, movies and CDs for checkout and computer classes. Additionally, the Long Island City branch is one of three Queens libraries that offers certification courses for Cisco Networking Academy, Microsoft Specialist, Adobe, Microsoft Associate and others, according to King.

The Long Island City branch also has a case manager who helps people who may not read or speak English deal with medical referrals and landlord disputes.

“The case manager can help knock down those barriers, but if you can’t get in the door what are you going to do?” King said.

“This library is a haven for people who work and maybe don’t have those resources for a place for their children to go after school,” Friends of the LIC Library Secretary Martiza Herrera said.

Community groups have rallied against the cuts since May 3 when the mayor released his proposed 2013 fiscal year budget. A final plan must be approved by July 1.

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