NYC libraries face uncertain future amid budget woes
New York City's public libraries confront an uncertain future as more potential budget cuts loom, threatening vital services and programs. Advocates say these libraries are already grappling with previous budget cuts, stirring concerns about what this means in communities.
"It's going to impact our lives," said Seain Jang, a Harlem resident and mother of 18-month-old Leo.
Jang says she and her son regularly benefit from library programs. She is concerned that potential funding changes could alter that.
“It’s always educational. We love story time and sing-a-long time, and it’s really good for his social skills and reading skills, so this is sad,” said Jang.
Advocates say libraries have already adapted to cuts by suspending most Sunday services and reducing its spending on materials, programming and building maintenance.
"When you lose hours and cut Sunday service, that makes it so much harder for working New Yorkers to access these programs and services," said Eli Dvorkin, editorial and policy director at the Center for an Urban Future.
Dvorkin warned that additional cuts may reduce hours even more.
"The administration proposed a 5%, that's about $24 million in cuts that have already taken place… there's an additional $22 million in cuts that could take effect as early as January of next year," said Dvorkin.
In response to concerns, a spokesperson with City Hall told News 12, ““The Adams administration recognizes the critical role libraries play in our communities, which is why we are investing tens of millions of dollars to update teen centers in underserved communities across the city, with access to state-of-the-art technology, academic enrichment, and social and emotional support services. Despite migrant costs rising, tax revenue growth slowing, and COVID stimulus funding drying up, we balanced the budget in November as the law requires — with every city agency digging into their own budgets to find savings with no layoffs and minimal disruption to services. Even with these savings, the city still faces an unprecedented $7 billion budget gap that must be closed next month, which is why we need significant and timely support from Washington D.C. and Albany.”
Parents like Jang are holding onto hope that the city can come up with alternatives.
“I hope we don’t get budget cuts. Most importantly he loves it very much - he enjoys spending time in the library,” said Jang of her young son.
Advocates fear these new potential cuts may not be the end and that more might be coming. Libraries are urging public support through a pledge at InvestinLibraries.org.