Fight to Protect our Public Libraries from the Zombie Economy!

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Today, I spoke with several people who work at and administer their local library branches in NYC about the economic situation they are faced with. Mayor Bloomberg, the eighth richest person in America, is proposing a 22% funding cut to all three New York City public library systems (NYPL, Brooklyn and Queens). These cuts would eliminate 943 employees, end all weekend service, and the materials budget will be cut by at least 30%. The City Council must approve this budget by June 30.

"At the Brooklyn Public Library, the materials budget would be cut by 30% and service at most branches limited to five hours (1-6 pm) on weekdays, in order to serve students after school," reports the Library Journal. "New York Public Library (NYPL) would reduce average weekly hours of service from 52 to 32 and cut the materials budget by 26% in the Branch Libraries and 35% in the Research Libraries."

The damage caused by this zombie economy is reverberating down into the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of society, resulting in an astonishing 30% increase in library usage and circulation this year alone, as people turn to their public libraries for free entertainment, computer usage and internet access, and for aid in their job searches and career planning.

All branches of the NYC library system are conducting a letter-writing campaign between now and 1 June. If you live in NYC, please stop into your local branch at your convenience and write your letter in support of public libraries, asking Bloomberg to restore library funding and the six/seven day per week hours.

Services on the "chopping block":

  1. 1091 jobs lost, including 943 layoffs
  2. book, journal and magazine purchases and subscriptions will be severely cut back
  3. public computer access will be reduced or, in some branches, become totally unavailable
  4. hours will be severely reduced with no library service available on weekends
  5. some branches may close
  6. free wireless access for the public will be discontinued

If you read or love this blog, remember that I personally rely on NYPL for: (essentials for me are bolded)

  1. safe, stable and free wireless access, which is essential for;
    • blog research, writing and publishing
    • freelance research and writing as well as seeking more writing assignments
    • job searching
    • email and other forms of communication
    • access to Nature
    • online banking
  2. photocopier and printer usage
  3. DVDs
  4. books
  5. a quiet, clean and safe work environment
  6. a consistent and pleasant place to go every day

I see many underemployed, unemployed and homeless people at the library every day who, like me, depend upon the library for so many essential things to keep them alive and "fighting the good fight."

Regardless of where you live and work, if you read and enjoy my blog, then you too, will be affected by this drastic budgetary cutback. So please, help me and others who depend upon the public libraries in NYC by contacting Mayor Bloomberg and asking him to restore the library budget and six/seven day public service hours;

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

PHONE: 311 (or, outside NYC, call 212-NEW-YORK)
FAX: (212) 312-0700

If you are a resident of NYC, please write your city council member.


Library Journal.

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The same thing has happened in the DC public library system...library hours have been cut dramatically at many of the branches.

That's actually insane. Cutting back library funding will only make a lot of people more miserable, desperate and unable to gets jobs (and make it harder for them to get degrees as well I suspect). I haven't heard of this kind of thing happening in the UK yet, so either they're being more sneaky about it or it's just a matter or time...

Mayor Bloomberg is obviously not going to leave us the same legacy as Andrew Carnegie.

By Eric Juve (not verified) on 15 May 2009 #permalink

i am so upset about this and hope that you all are, too. i have already sent one letter, and plan to send one every day until the letter writing campaign ends. i am also sending email, and calling his office. i am also thinking of other approaches .. perhaps visiting his office in the flesh? rumor has it that he rides the subway to work once in a while, so i could also ride the same subway and talk to him then. of course, i'll have my camera ready.

It would be nice of the poster actually mentioned the value that professional librarians provide aside from providing a nice place for people to hang out.

I'm of mixed feelings about this. While I understand and greatly respect the need for public libaries, I have been greatly disappointed by their implementation.

In reality, I have found public libraries to be bastions of indolent, ignorant, tenured public service, fearful of change, wasteful with the scant funds they have, and easily confused by the technologies that should be advancing their capabilities, but are ultimately going to make them redundant - just like the newspapers, the music and now the book publishers are finding themselves.

Libraries in my area are only open partially on the weekends, and never after business hours during the week: in other words, at the convenience of the library staff, rather than the people who want to use the library. The staff that select books from their own preference and without logic or reason - including books completely irrelevant to our locale (e.g. a recent whole slew of new books on diy septic tank maintenance, in a town where septic tanks are illegal).

Your most important requirements can be met by your local coffee shop. They provide these as an incidental to their business, which, sadly, is just what the libraries are doing.

It seems that library patronage around the world is going up. We're seeing the same here (in New Zealand). As far as I know our city council is holding the budget for the library as the same and is considering a case for opening a new library. Incidentally, our library was supported by Carnegie in it's earlier days.


Off to Tonga soonâstill don't have a digital camera, so I'm not sure if I'll get pix for you. Besides I've had to drop going to Eua, as trying to organise the transport from outside Tonga proved too complicated and I haven't time to wing it once I'm there.


My experience of libraries isn't anything like yours. Then again, our libraries may be more progressive.

Our (central) libraries are open until 8pm every weekday night and also in the weekends. There are book buses for the outlying areas. They also issue CDs, videos, talking books, host local collections, have all the major newspapers, etc.

It's possible the books you refer to were donated or gifted.

As a general comment (i.e. not specifically about the books you refer to), book orders may also be skewed by allowing people to "recommend" books. We get this to an extent, but it's (strongly) tempered by the recommendations being filtered by the library staff: things that are unlikely to have a wider readership, too expensive for their anticipated readership or for which there are too much current material on the same topic are usually declined.

By DeafScientist (not verified) on 15 May 2009 #permalink