by Davis Erin Anderson, Community Engagement Manager, METRO
The latest report from Center for An Urban Future illuminates the complex funding issues that have left New York City’s public libraries in a state of disrepair. All told, 59 branches across our three discrete systems require $1.1 billion in capital funding to repair leaky roofs, replace malfunctioning HVAC equipment, and update overburdened electrical systems.
Efforts to modernize the branches face serious issues from the start. Since our library systems rely on discretionary funding from the City Council and borough presidents, repairs are arranged for in a piecemeal fashion. This makes long-range planning exceedingly difficult at a time when New Yorkers are more reliant than ever on their local libraries.
Faced with these challenges, Center for an Urban Future has set forth key ideas to bring NYC's libraries to today's standards. Their blueprint advocates for a citywide capital plan to cover the costs of badly needed repairs and renovations. The report recommends tying library-related investments to larger community efforts, bringing branches to new housing developments and allowing for community input on the design of remodeled facilities.