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2017 News Releases

May 19, 2017

Rudy Orozco
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Angela Montefinise (NYPL)
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DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido, library workers, & advocates urge Mayor and Council to keep investing in libraries

Library supporters call for further comprehensive investments in FY18, including $150 million of capital funding for badly needed building repairs

New York, NY – DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido, library workers, advocates and elected officials rallied outside of City Hall on Friday to urge the Mayor and City Council to keep investing in city libraries. Keeping up with the city’s 40 million library visits each year has stretched librarians and facilities to their limits.

A report released by the city’s three library systems earlier this week – called “Time to Renew” – highlighted the over $1 billion in capital need plaguing the city’s 216 libraries. The report shared 10 of the worst examples of branches in disrepair, facing issues such as broken elevators, faulty heat and air conditioning, insufficient power, overcrowding, leaks, broken windows, and more.

When branches are in poor shape, library workers need to spend time mending pipes and fixing windows rather than doing the important, necessary work that New Yorkers need and want.

The city’s three library systems – Brooklyn Public Library, The New York Public Library, and Queens Library – are asking the city for $150 million in new capital funding in Fiscal Year 2018 for critical maintenance to help address the issue, described as “unacceptable” in the report.

Additionally, the three systems are asking for $34 million in additional operating funding to open more branches across the city seven days a week – currently, 93 percent of the city’s libraries are closed on either Saturday or Sunday, the only days available for many working families.

The three library presidents shared these needs at their executive budget hearing before the City Council after the rally with DC 37.

“Our public libraries receive more than 40 million visits each year,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. “A report released earlier this week notes that too many branches are in disrepair and many staffers spend too much time addressing infrastructure problems, instead of providing the library services for which they are trained. Our neighborhood libraries need more funding to continue to provide the services our communities need. We call on the Mayor and City Council to add $150 million in capital funding for much-needed library repairs and $34 million to operating budgets to allow for seven day service.”

“New York City’s libraries have been able to offer more hours, acquire more books, and serve more people over the past two years thanks to the support and leadership of the administration, city council, and the members of DC 37,” said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda Johnson. “Unfortunately, many of our branches continue to be plagued by equipment failures and unplanned closures. We urge the city to increase its capital investment in libraries so that we can focus on providing spaces to host the programs and maintain the collections that millions of New Yorkers rely on.”

“When the city invests in its libraries as it has the last few years, the rewards are clear: our residents, our communities, our city and our very Democracy become stronger,” said New York Public Library President Tony Marx. “We are partnering with DC37 to emphasize how important it is to our patrons and staff that we don’t lose momentum, and continue to work with the city to improve our aging infrastructure, and provide as many hours as possible. The people of the city need us more than ever; we need to serve them, and by extension, make our city better.”

“In a day and age where our library systems are life savers to New Yorkers, we must make sure we protect the city funding we have won in the past and add additional funds to strengthen our libraries,” said Council Member Andy King, Chair of the New York City Council Subcommittee on Libraries. “We as New Yorkers are strengthened by these institutions that educate us and provide us with vital services.”

“Every day, thousands of New Yorkers visit their local libraries to borrow books, attend computer literacy courses, or participate in youth and adult programming. From youth and immigrants to aspiring entrepreneurs, our libraries play a central role in connecting New Yorkers of all ages with the opportunities and resources for personal, academic, and professional development. Through the ongoing investment of the New York City Council and de Blasio Administration, every neighborhood can continue to utilize their public libraries as a learning hub,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.

“From toddlers, to seniors, and all ages in between — our public libraries are a vital resource for so many New Yorkers, said Council Member Rafael Espinal. “Libraries are where we experience the joy of reading and establish lifelong learning skills. It is a space where individuals of all socio-economic backgrounds can come to access technology and take recreational courses. We must show our commitment to these community staples through our actions by funding libraries as they deserve to be funded. I am proud to stand with the Brooklyn Public Library, which has personally influenced my life, and DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido in urging Mayor de Blasio to continue funding our libraries.”

“Capital funding for libraries is an investment in New York City’s success. In the communities I represent, libraries are a lifeline of information and opportunity for communities eager to learn. I join library advocates, administrators and patrons along with DC37 calling for full capital and program funding for all libraries. We need more hours of operation, robust programming, and well-maintained buildings to welcome patrons during more than 40 million visits each year.” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

District Council 37 is New York City's largest public employee union, with 125,000 members and 50,000 retirees.