The New York Public Library to Increase Staff, Hours, and Sunday Service Following Historic Investment by New York City
Increased funding also allows full renovations of five Carnegie libraries, all in high needs areas
SEPTEMBER 10, 2015 – The New York Public Library announced today that it is dramatically increasing hours – including Sunday service at four additional branches – and expert staff as a result of the city’s unprecedented investment in libraries.
The historic $43 million increase in operating funding to the city’s three library systems in Fiscal Year 2016 will allow The New York Public Library to open four additional branches on Sunday – the Grand Concourse and Parkchester Libraries in the Bronx, and the Inwood and Jefferson Market Libraries in Manhattan. This brings the total number of New York Public Library branches open seven days a week to seven, with at least one in each borough served (all 88 NYPL branches are open six days).
Sunday service will start in those four branches on Sunday, September 13. The Library will have a public celebration starting at 1 p.m. at Grand Concourse Library to mark the occasion.
Additionally, the Library is increasing hours at its branches across the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island. In total, there will be 293 more public service hours per week in The New York Public Library system, bringing average weekly branch hours up from 46.6 hours to 50.
“Parents across our city know libraries can help develop their child’s lifelong love of reading—and New Yorkers in every neighborhood know the importance of having a local library where they can borrow books, take classes, and bring their families. That’s why our administration invested an additional $316 million in capital funding to improve our city’s libraries—and why we invested an additional $21.9 million in operating funds this year to allow for extended hours at our city’s libraries,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“Our city’s libraries serve as technological hubs and community centers, as well as excellent resources for students and the community as a whole,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The Council is proud to provide funding that allows the New York Public Library to extend hours and serve even more New Yorkers. We will continue to make key investments in the city that benefit residents throughout the five boroughs.”
The increased hours will be rolled out over the next few months, as the Library works to add necessary, expert staff. In total, the Library will hire approximately 100 new librarians and other public service positions; more than half of those librarians will be children and young adult specialists, contributing to the Library’s strong focus on early literacy and preparing New York City children for school.
The impact of even one new staff member can be seen immediately – in Fiscal Year 2015, the Library used a $4.4 million increase in city funding to fill key staff positions, including a children’s specialist for the City Island branch in the Bronx. As a direct result of librarian Theresa Panza’s arrival at the branch, children’s programming attendance there increased by about 60 percent.
The Library’s research centers will also see increases in hours as a result of the increase in Fiscal Year 2016 funding: The Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center will increase public service hours 23 percent to 49 per week, and the Schomburg Center will increase hours in two of its most popular divisions – Manuscripts and Archives and Photography – from 29 hours per week to 35 hours per week.
Additionally, the Library is dedicating a portion of the funds to collections, which include books and other materials.
“The people of New York are using public libraries in more ways than ever before, utilizing an array of free programs, classes, and services that strengthen themselves and their communities,” said NYPL President Tony Marx. “Increased staff and hours allow us to offer the public even more of those critical and irreplaceable services, particularly in the area of early literacy just as school is beginning. We are so grateful to Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras, Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, and all of our supporters in the City Council, who have given us the opportunity to dramatically improve public service systemwide.”
The city’s libraries also received a historic investment from the city on the capital side, receiving over $300 million over 10 years. This funding allows libraries – for the first time – to plan major renovations in advance (in the past, funding came piecemeal). While plans are still being made for the funding, the Library can announce five major projects that will happen over the next decade: full renovations to five Carnegie branches in high needs areas.
The branches are Melrose and Hunts Point Libraries in the Bronx, Fort Washington and 125th Street in Manhattan, and Port Richmond in Staten Island. The renovations will cost about $20 million per branch, and will include the development of now vacant spaces formerly used as apartments for library custodians and their families.
Timelines and details of these projects will be rolled out in the coming months, and residents of the neighborhoods served will be asked to share what they need in renovated libraries (the Library has already engaged communities around important capital projects in Westchester Square and Woodlawn Heights in the Bronx, Roosevelt Island in Manhattan, and Charleston / Rossville in Staten Island).
The unprecedented investment in the city’s libraries by the city – including Mayor de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and the City Council – came after the several-months-long “Invest in Libraries” campaign by the city’s three library systems. The campaign by The Brooklyn Public Library, The New York Public Library, and The Queens Library included several City Hall rallies, letters of support from writers Judy Blume, Robert Caro and Junot Diaz, a social media campaign, and a letter-writing campaign that generated over 130,000 letters from New Yorkers asking elected officials to increase both capital and operating funding to libraries.
"Today we celebrate a hard fought victory for our library systems that provide top-notch intergenerational services that are truly equalizing, providing opportunities for every New Yorker,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras. “As chair of the finance committee, I am proud of the work my colleagues I at the City Council did in approving a budget that recognizes our libraries special place in our City and supports their work.”
“Today, we celebrate the hard fought battle to ensure that library service in the City of New York is accessible for all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Andy King, Chair of the Subcommittee on Libraries. “Increasing weekend service, including Sundays in locations like the Grand Concourse Branch, will enable more working families to enjoy the library with their children, more job seekers to have more time on a computer, and more teens will have more time in a safe space for productive activities."
“Libraries are crucial elements of our city’s neighborhoods that provide countless services to thousands of residents. The expansion of the New York Public Library’s Sunday service to its Bronx branches- the Grand Concourse and Parkchester Libraries- will provide more opportunities for Bronxites to take advantage of important resources and have a safe and welcoming place to pursue educational and cultural enrichment,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres of the Bronx.
“Libraries are essential to the growth and success of our communities. Increased hours means increased resources for our children, programs for our seniors and access to underserved communities. I commend the New York Public Library and the City of New York for investing in our communities by prioritizing library services,” New York State Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie
“Sunday hours for these libraries is the result of hard work by DC 37 leaders, activists and our community partners to secure the much-needed funding for the vital services that are needed by young and old alike,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. “Public libraries are treasures in our communities, providing safe places for children to study after school, as well as educational programs, computers, audio/visual equipment and other resources that are accessible to all.”
Angela Montefinise | firstname.lastname@example.org
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 92 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.