Bronx gets major boost in library attendance, report says

The Bronx has some of the top performing in New York City, despite budget cuts during the last six years, according to a report published by the Center for an Urban Future.

Out of the 207 city libraries, the Bronx branches had a 225% increase in program attendance. Manhattan follows with a 172% increase and Staten Island comes in third with 87%.

“The branches have always experienced a high demand of patrons’ usage and branches are open to make sure they are providing services by listening to the community and what their needs are,” said Gesille Dixon, associate director of the Central Bronx Libraries.

Programs like English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), TechConnect — where individuals entering the job market again learn computer skills — and children’s after school programs have seen a surge in usage at the Bronx branches.

The report provides detailed statistics of the top-ten circulating librariesfrom 2002-2014. Libraries overall experiences a 67% increase in attendance and a 30% increase in circulation.

Although increases have been noted throughout the three main library systems in the city (The New York Public Library, Brooklyn Library and Queens Borough Public Library), funding has declined by 4% since 2002.

If libraries continue to operate on the same budget as this past year that means operating hours will be affected since not enough funding equals no hiring of extra staff to maintain libraries open for the public. The libraries seek to maintain a balance with the current budget if seek more funding from the city.

Also, thanks to the decrease in the city’s operating budget of 10 percent since 2009, circulation has dropped from 69 million materials in 2011 to 56 million in 2014. Despite the Bronx gaining a 35 percent increase in circulation.

“The libraries are not able to spend what they should on materials and resources and many libraries are not open enough during the week,” said David Giles, research director for the Center for an Urban Future and author of the report. “For the libraries to continue the level of service many residents have come to expect, then policymakers will have to begin increasing the budget again after several years of cuts. This year’s budget is slated to be $10 million less than last years’.”

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