After years of cuts, New York public libraries finally received some good news.
Assemblymember Grace Meng recently announced that the library system will receive a construction grant of $14 million for long awaited renovations and upgrades.
A recent survey assessed the need for public library construction and renovation projects totaling more than $2.53 billion. With more than 40 percent of New York’s over 1,000 public library buildings older than 60 years, many of them are in dire need for critical repairs. Many of these decades’ old buildings are unable to accommodate those with disabilities, are energy inefficient and have outdated and inadequate wirings that are unable to provide Internet access.
From the awarded $14 million, $1.3 million will go to three Queens public libraries. Flushing library, located at 41-17 Main Street will receive $433,786 to improve public access, upgrade the check out system, add 3,000 for lighting, electrical services, partitions and flooring. Bayside library, located at 214-20 Northern Boulevard, will receive $350,691 for interior renovations, an alarm system, and improved access, lighting and electronic services. The Central library in Jamaica, at 89-11 Merrick Boulevard, will receive $564,038 for renovations in electrical and mechanical systems.
Deep budget cuts in the past have forced the libraries to put forth money saving efforts such as sending emails for reserve and overdue notices to save paper and mailing costs, calling for donations and volunteers, and in some cases, sacrificing buying new books, CDs and DVDs to keep the libraries staffed and open. Still, they are at risk of cutting service for days, eliminating many community programs, and in a worst-case scenario, up to 12 branches could be shut down.
To save your local library, you can make your voice heard to the elected officials or make donations directly to New York public libraries.