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For 2013, Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposes to slash $26.7 million from the Queens Public Library budget. This dramatic reduction in funding is disheartening and borders on outrageous.
Since 1994, the Queens Library has not just been New York City’s busiest library, but the busiest in the country. Daily, 45,000 patrons visit 62 branches, seven adult learning centers and two family literacy centers.
And yet Queens Library receives the least amount of funding from the city. Where is the logic in such budgeting?
The Queens Library provides vital community services, not only by bringing books, music and movies to the world’s most diverse neighborhoods, but also by sponsoring cultural events, job training, English language lessons and after-school programs, to name just a few.
All of this despite recent years’ devastating reductions in funding, which have severely reduced services, library staff and hours of operation. Year after year, the Queens Library pulls off miracles in community service, but its only reward is another cut to its already-strained budget. Unbelievable.
To speak to my own experience, due to consistent budget reductions, I cannot enjoy my own local Queens Library branch — Steinway in Astoria — which I walk past daily to and from work. The library opens too late in the morning — 10 a.m. — and closes too early in the evening — usually 6 p.m. — for me to enjoy it.
On the weekends, I am free only on Sundays, when the library is closed. Because the Steinway branch cannot serve my needs, I rely heavily on the Manhattan library system, which has more amenable hours for working people.
Effectively, my “local” library branch has been relocated to 58th Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan — a 20-minute subway ride from the Steinway branch.
In these lean economic times, more citizens rely on the Queens Library for education, training and entertainment. More budget cuts to the Queens Library system will further diminish our necessary community resources.
I urge Bloomberg and the City Council to not only reject budget cuts to Queens Library, but to increase funding for this vital institution.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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