by Davis Erin Anderson, Community Engagement Manager, METRO
In exciting news for our three public library systems, New York City’s FY16 budget includes an additional $39M in funding for library services. This significant increase will keep branch library doors open 6 days a week throughout the boroughs and will bring 500 new jobs. The de Blasio administration has also committed to a ten-year $300 million capital improvement budget for our libraries, a sorely needed commitment given the steady deterioration of our libraries’ infrastructure.
The city’s FY16 budget was announced late on Monday evening by Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. The budget also includes a major increase in funding for the NYPD, the parks department, and the city’s public schools.
This historic increase in funding comes after a multi-faceted advocacy campaign set forth by New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Library. The three systems teamed up on investinlibraries.org, which includes a white paper detailing their infrastructure issues. The libraries also promoted the hashtag #investinlibraries, held rallies around the city, created a letter-writing campaign, and gathered testimonials by the likes of Judy Blume, Junot Diaz, and Tom Wolfe.
Meanwhile, Urban Librarians Unite staged a 24-hour read-in on June 11 at City Hall. In his interview with Library Journal, city council majority leader Jimmy Van Bramer called the read-in “a steady drumbeat” that “made a compelling case that, in a city that sees growing income disparities and has too many people falling into poverty, unemployed, struggling, that public libraries are the first line of defense in the war against inequality and library workers are really at the front line.”