‘Doomsday budget’ may slash libraries

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A job opening in Manhattan required a resume to be submitted online, but the woman applying had no computer, no resume and no clue where to begin.

Seeking help, she visited her local Queens Library branch, where a job search librarian helped her write the resume and submit it online.
Joanne King, the library’s associate director of communications, said this is just one of the millions of stories of residents utilizing the libraries’ free resources — a move that may prove impossible next year.

More than $26 million is scheduled to be cut from the library’s budget — a 31 percent decrease — if Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s executive budget is passed.

“People in Queens need and use their libraries. Libraries make a huge impact on the educational and economic landscape,” said Queens Library President and CEO Thomas Galante.

This would be the fifth consecutive year library funds decreased.

“These threatened cuts must be restored to enable libraries to stay open with full services and programs for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come through their doors,” said Borough President Helen Marshall at a Tuesday, May 8 rally to save the library.

The city budget must still go through Council hearings before it is finalized ahead of the new fiscal year beginning July 1.
Steep losses were avoided last year when more than $23 million of a proposed $25 million budget reduction were restored, though the libraries suffered a midyear cut of $1.66 million, King said.

If the “doomsday budget” passes, 18 of the borough’s 62 libraries may have to shut their doors with 30 more being closed at least four days each week. Only one branch — Jamaica — would remain open on Saturdays and none on Sunday.

Depite the “yearly dance” with proposed cuts, the borough cannot grow tired of the fight, said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, chair of the Council’s Committee on Cultural Affairs and Libraries.

“It is too important not to keep fighting for libraries, to keep fighting for the kid who needs them after school, for the people out of work right no who need the library to be open.”

There is an online petition residents can sign at savequeenslibrary.org.

More than 600 employees’ jobs may be lost, according to the library, which is already down 200 staffers from four years ago.

The reduction in staff is the major reason many libraries will struggle to keep their doors open, King said.

“We’re the main information provider for the borough, but if the buildings are closed, we can’t help them.”