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City's libraries to rally for more funding

The Fort Washington is among the branches that

The Fort Washington is among the branches that NYPL leaders say is in disrepair due to funding cuts. Photo Credit: NYPL

Leaders from the city’s public library systems will head to the steps of City Hall Friday morning to call on the mayor to restore more funding to keep branches from falling apart.

The New York, Brooklyn and Queens public library systems are set to release a report, “Long Overdue,” that shows why they need $1 billion in the city’s 10-year capital plan to solve its “maintenance crisis” at branches throughout the five boroughs.

The report contains pictures of libraries that have broken heating systems, overcrowding, limited access for the disabled and other problems caused by budget cuts.

“We hope they will see the wisdom of our ways,” NYPL Iris Weinshall COO said of Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council.

In 2008, the city cut the budget to libraries due to the financial crisis, and Weinshall said the branches haven’t fully returned to those financial levels. De Blasio provided the three systems with $10 million for their operational budget in 2014 and set aside $62.3 million in the 10-year capital plan this year.

Weinshall, who will protest at City Hall with her fellow library leaders, said this amount is too small to account for the maintenance of 217 locations. The campaign has received support from several council members including Jimmy Van Bramer and Costa Constantinides, who is chair of the Council Sub-Committee on Libraries.

"Libraries provide irreplaceable services helping everyone regardless of age, origin, or economic status," Constantinides said in a statement.

Van Bramer said he was hopeful the mayor would listen to the needs of the library systems since branches are instrumental for his administration’s goals, which include leveling income inequality.

“We want people to know that libraries are fundamental to that fight against inequality,” he said.


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