For 2013, Mayor Bloomberg proposes to slash $26.7 million from the Queens Library budget. This dramatic reduction in funding is disheartening and borders on outrageous.
Since 1994, the Queens Library has not just been New York City’s busiest library system — but the busiest in the country! Daily, 45,000 patrons visit 62 branches, seven adult learning centers and two family literacy centers. And yet the Queens Library receives the least amount of funding from the city. Where is the logic in such budgeting?
The Queens Library provides vital community services, not only by bringing books, music, and movies (in numerous languages) to the world’s most diverse neighborhoods, but also by sponsoring cultural events, job training, English language lessons and after-school programs, to name just a few of the obvious activities. All of this despite recent years’ devastating reductions in funding, which have severely reduced services, library staff and hours of operation. Year after year, the Queens Library pulls off miracles in community service, but its only reward is another cut to an already strained budget. Unbelievable.
To speak to my own experience: Due to consistent budget reductions, I cannot even enjoy my own local Queens Library branch (Steinway), which I walk past daily to and from work. The library opens too late in the morning (10 a.m.) and closes too early in the evening (mostly 6 p.m.) for me to use it. On the weekends, I am free only on Sundays — the same day the library is closed.
Because the Steinway branch cannot serve my needs, I rely heavily on the Manhattan library system, which has hours more amenable to working people. Effectively, my “local” library has been relocated to 58th Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan — a 20-minute subway ride from the Steinway branch in Astoria.
In these lean economic times, more and more citizens rely on the Queens Library for education, training and entertainment. More budget cuts will further diminish our necessary community resources.
I urge Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council to not only reject budget cuts to the Queens Library, but to increase funding for this vital institution.