JUNE 3 -- The New York Public Library (NYPL) has launched a grassroots advocacy campaign to push for an additional $24 million in its Fiscal Year 2015 city operating budget.
Although Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council have restored last year’s funding for the institution in their proposed city budget -- $135 million -- The New York Public Library is requesting additional funding to restore its budget to 2008 levels, before a series of annual cuts slashed its city funding by 16 percent.
“At a time when New Yorkers are using their libraries more than ever, and demand for services continues to increase, The New York Public Library wants to do even more – offer more programs, more class slots, more computers, more hours," said NYPL President Tony Marx. "Restoring our funding to 2008 levels will allow us to do just that, and offer critical opportunities to the people of this city. We greatly appreciate that the Mayor and City Council are moving away from the annual ‘budget dance,’ and have not proposed a budget cut this year, but we look forward to working together to bring library funding back to 2008 levels.”
The New York Public Library is joining its fellow city library systems, the Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Library, to fight for a combined $65 million in additional funding.
With that funding, the city’s three systems could:
- Increase hours 16 percent, from an average of 43 per week per branch to 50 hours a week.
- Add enough books and materials to increase annual circulation 25 percent, from 61 million to 76 million.
- Increase computer sessions 53 percent, from 8.5 million to 13 million.
- Increase computer class attendance 109 percent, from 110,000 to 230,000.
- Increase after-school program slots 135 percent, from 8,500 to 20,000.
- Increase ESOL class slots 135 percent, from 10,000 to 23,500.
Since Fiscal Year 2008, The New York Public Library has consistently sustained cuts to its operating budget, which pays for the day-to-day activities of the Library’s 88 neighborhood branches in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island. In total, NYPL’s budget has been cut $24 million, or nearly 16 percent, and nearly 500 jobs have been lost.
Over the same period of time, circulation of books and other materials is up 30 percent, attendance at free classes and programs is up 78 percent, public computer use is up 70 percent, and the Library has added numerous important programs, including a series of free after school programs for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. New York City libraries are seeing record usage, and are providing key free services to the public such as materials, computers, ESOL and literacy classes, after-school help for kids, job search help, and more. The Center for an Urban Future’s 2013 report “Branches of Opportunity” highlighted the importance of libraries, saying, “No other institution, public or private, does a better job of reaching people who have been left behind in today’s economy, have failed to reach their potential in the city’s public school system or who simply need help navigating an increasingly complex world.” New Yorkers need their libraries – and in this year’s campaign, NYPL needs New Yorkers.
One of the key components of the campaign is letter-writing – the Library is calling on members of the public to sign letters to Mayor de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and members of the City Council, asking them to restore The New York Public Library to 2008 funding levels. The public can find letters in their local branches, or online at nypl.org/speakout.
About The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 91 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library serves more than 18 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.