By Jonathan Sperling
A whopping 95 percent of New Yorkers say that losing their local library would hurt their communities, a new research poll shows.
The results of an online poll by Change Research show that children, seniors, immigrants and low-income families would most feel the effects of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to slash $16 million for public libraries. Change Research, a Public Benefit Corporation that conducts public opinion research, surveyed more than 1,000 New Yorkers between March 26 and March 31.
The funding cut would result in reduced hours, hiring and staffing across the city’s libraries, including at the more than 60 branches of the Queens Public Library, according to the QPL. The cuts would also affect the Brooklyn Public Library and the New York Public Library.
“This poll reinforces what we already know to be true, that our public libraries are indispensable to our communities,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, chair of the Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations Committee. “That is why we must fight to increase funding for our public libraries and not accept any cuts that would scale back the essential services they provide. Libraries should never be on the chopping block.”
The three library systems have asked the city for $35 million in additional expense funding in fiscal year 2020, as well as $963 million over 10 years in the 10-Year Capital Plan for renovations, technology upgrades and critical maintenance.
The library systems stand to lose $8 million cut from their FY 2020 budgets and as much as $8 million in one-year City Council funding under the current plan.
The poll revealed that 93 percent of those surveyed believe libraries are a cornerstone of all New York communities. In addition, 84 percent believe libraries deserve an increase in funding and 63 percent believe public libraries supplement public schools’ early education efforts.
The call for increased library funding is especially relevant during National Library Week, observed annually during the second full week of April.
As part of National Library Week, the Queens Public Library is hosting an array of events at branches from Astoria to Far Rockaway. See the library system’s website for a full list of events.