DC37, libraries workers and advocates to de Blasio: Keep investing in libraries
Stephon Johnson | 6/1/2017, 5:26 p.m.
On a hot and muggy Friday morning at City Hall, libraries workers, advocates and members of the union DC37 called on the de Blasio administration to keep investing in libraries.
DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said the city shows its priorities by what it funds.
“We often say that a budget is a statement of principles,” said Garrido. “If you believe in libraries, you make sure that libraries are properly funded. Right now, we are in an important moment in this society. We have found that more than ever we are in need of some knowledge.”
Garrido called on the city to “do the right thing” and fund libraries. “We need seven days,” he said. “The communities need seven days. In a budget this big, we should not be coming year after year to beg for something so fundamentally principle and necessary.”
A report released by the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Library called “Time to Renew” advocated for more than $1 billion in capital funds to help with issues such as broken elevators, leaks, insufficient power supplies, broken windows and more.
The “Time to Renew” report is part of a multi-year campaign called Invest in Libraries that advocates for more resources to New York libraries. Launched three years ago, the campaign has generated support from writers and public figures such as Malcolm Gladwell, Junot Diaz and Tom Wolfe.
Officials from the three library systems are asking for $150 million in new capital funding for Fiscal Year 2018 to address maintenance issues. They are also asking for $34 million in additional operating funds to extend all library openings to seven days a week, stating that some families can only come to their branches on weekends.
“Not only do we need to be open for the hours that our patrons come to see us, we also need buildings that are safe and secure and, more than that, are inspiring,” said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda Johnson at City Hall. “It is not OK to have a building in 2017 that is not handicap accessible. It is not OK to have buildings with roofs that need to be replaced, that have HVAC systems on days like today that can’t keep the building cool and heaters that can’t keep the buildings warm. We need the city to make the capital investment.”
New York City Council Member Andy King attempted to use history as a building block for his point on the necessity of funding city libraries.
“Over the course of the history of man, cultures when they are falling, the first thing they try to do is preserve the legacy of their story,” said King. “It was preserved for the next generation to know about. That’s what the library does for New York. That’s what it does for the United States of America. We’re asking the administration to do the right thing by the culture of New York, by the history of New York, by the libraries of New York and keep investing in libraries ... in New York.”