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.
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.
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.
- City’s public library systems seek a boost in funding to open six days a week, add services (via Staten Island Live)
“We will not rely on your support alone,” Marx said. “NYPL will commit to an unprecedented level of fundraising for our neighborhood branches.”
Marx also pitched changes to the way the library system’s capital budget — used to upgrade libraries and build new ones — is funded, requesting a more stable four-year funding plan.
UPDATE: On Tuesday, the New York City Council Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations and the Committee on Finance and the Subcommitee on Libraries held a joint hearing re: library budgets. The report embedded below was presented at the hearing.