2016 News Releases
May 25, 2016
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DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido, library workers, & advocates urge mayor and Council to keep investing in libraries
Library supporters call for comprehensive investments in FY17—$22 million increase in operating funding; secure all library funding allocated in the FY16 budget; allocate $100 million of capital funding for badly needed building repairs.
New York, NY – District Council 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido, library workers, advocates and elected officials urged the Mayor and City Council to keep investing in city libraries at City Hall press conference today.
Keeping up with the city’s over 40 million library visits each year --- more than major professional sports, performing arts, museums, gardens and zoos combined --- has stretched librarians and facilities to their limits.
Libraries are on the front lines of fighting inequality and helping New Yorkers in need. A full budget restoration will allow New York City libraries to preserve citywide six-day service, retain staff hired last year, and continue to provide expanded service so that program demand can be met. The funding would also help the City’s three systems address their more than $250 million in immediate maintenance needs.
The campaign recently secured over 60,000 letters to City Hall from New Yorkers across all five boroughs highlighting how libraries are more than ever a lifeline for our communities. Last year’s investment by the City aided transformation of branches across the city. Neighborhood branches hired much-needed staff, from children’s librarians to technology specialists, and began staying open longer, so that working people can visit their branches on weekends and evenings.
“Our public libraries not only provide a safe educational environment for our children, but also serve as job and education centers for the unemployed searching for work, immigrants learning English and anyone who seeks to improve their level of education,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. “That is why we urge Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to restore the remaining $44 million to the libraries’ operating budget and $100 million in capital funds in the FY 2017 budget.”
“Last year, the City Council and Mayor gave an historic increase in library funding which allowed for mandated six day service, more programs and the staff to run them,” said Local 1321 President John Hyslop, who represents library workers at the Queens Public Library. “However, that funding was not permanent, and was not enough. We need library funding to be restored to a level that will preserve the critical library services that our communities need.”
“We’re proud to stand with the members of DC 37 in urging the city to keep investing in libraries,” said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda Johnson. “Thanks to the support of our elected officials, it’s been a great year for New York City’s libraries, as we’ve been able to serve more people, offer more programs and purchase more books for our collection. It is essential that we have the funds not only to preserve the gains made in last year’s budget, but also to expand our outreach to the people and communities who need us most.”
"Public libraries offer New Yorkers opportunities to strengthen themselves and their communities through free programs, services, and expert staff, all of which were expanded last year with the strong support of our partners in government," said New York Public Library President Tony Marx. "We stand with DC 37, calling on our elected officials to continue last year's important work and keep investing in libraries so that we can best serve the people of this great city."
"Queens Library staff members know better than anyone how impactful library programs and services are for our residents, said Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. ”Staff are on the front lines every day. They work hard to offer free library resources that educate, inform and inspire New Yorkers, regardless of income. I am proud to stand with the members of DC37 and our elected officials to call for adequate library funding to hire more staff and expand the library hours and programs that serve our City so well." Dennis M. Walcott, President and CEO, Queens Library
"Libraries provide critical community spaces,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Chair of the Finance Committee. “They encourage a love of reading and learning. They are locations for job seekers and English language learners. I applaud DC 37, all the workers, advocates and elected officials standing up today in support of these vital institutions, and will continue to work alongside you to ensure libraries receive the funding they need."
"I'm proud to have fought for libraries for 17 years, first as a staff member at the Queens Library, and now as the Majority Leader of the City Council and the Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs and Libraries,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “Libraries are our city's lifeblood. They provide English language classes to recent immigrants, after school programs for children, job search help for the unemployed, and access to knowledge and learning for all who seek it. Last year, we fought to restore 6 day service to every library across the five boroughs. We must continue to invest in our libraries and make sure these vital services remain available for all New Yorkers."
“Libraries are a staple in our communities serving youth and adults across the City. In Southeast Queens, there is not a time in the day when residents are not filling the many branches located in my district participating in a class, applying for a job, or doing their homework,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “I am proud to be a part of this Council, which has continued to support these vital institutions. I would like to thank the members of DC37 and all the advocates here today for making the public aware of what we have accomplished and look forward to continuing our work together.”
Council Member Costa Constantinides said, "Our three public library systems serve an important role to our communities - they help improve literacy and close the digital divide. We must ensure that all our public library branches continue to have the resources they need for staff and programming. Investing in our libraries will help keep them open and accessible to all. I thank DC 37 and our invaluable library staff for working to raise awareness."
"Libraries are cultural and educational venues that are central to building strong, vibrant neighborhoods," said Council Member Mark Levine. "Last year, the city made a historic commitment to library services, and now is not the time to pull back.Instead we should double down on the success of that investment, and ensure robust library services are available in all communities."
District Council 37 is New York City's largest public employee union, with 121,000 members and 50,000 retirees.
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