New York City Mayor Eric Adams is facing criticism and growing opposition over his planned cuts in the budget for city libraries.
Libraries serve as a critical lifeline for people who do not have internet access at home or who need after-school tutoring and English language instruction.
“The proposed cuts of $13 million this fiscal year and more than $20 million next year have sparked concern among families, elected officials and library leaders,” The New York Times reported, adding libraries could respond to the trimmed budget by scaling back hours, workers or programming. The city spends roughly $400 million annually on public libraries which is a small fraction of its $100 billion budget.
New York City’s more than 200 library locations play an important role in the cultural and educational life of the city. They provide access to books, periodicals, and other materials for both recreational reading and research.
Libraries also offer a variety of programs and services, such as computer and internet access, language classes, literacy programs, and homework help for students. Additionally, many libraries serve as community centers, hosting events such as book clubs, author talks, and concerts.
Overall, New York City libraries are an important resource for the city’s residents and contribute to the development of a well-informed and educated community.
The NYT quoted Anthony W. Marx, president of the New York Public Library, as saying that worrying about where to cut was keeping him up at night, and library leaders added that their services were needed more than ever following the disruption of the pandemic.
“We’d have no choice but to do less, and that would be a great shame for the city,” Nick Buron, the chief librarian at the Queens Public Library, told NYT.
NYT said City Council leaders are gearing up for a battle with Mr. Adams about his cuts to libraries and other programs like free preschool for 3-year-olds and funding for the City University of New York. A group of 13 left-leaning council members called the mayor’s recent budget adjustments “cruel and dangerous” and argued that they would make the city less stable.
A spokeswoman for the mayor, Amaris Cockfield, said in a statement that the Adams administration valued “the important role libraries play in our community” and would work with library leaders to “implement savings initiatives in a way that does not reduce services to New Yorkers.”