April 9, 2019 By Thomas Laforgia
New Yorkers are on the same page when it comes to the importance of local libraries — but cuts may loom for the service despite its popularity, advocates warn.
Libraries face a $16 million drop in funding next year under Mayor de Blasio’s proposed $92.2 billion budget, according to the group Invest In Libraries.
A recent study, however, showed city residents offering near-unanimous praise for the institutions.
Ninety-three percent of those surveyed said libraries were community cornerstones, while 84 percent said libraries deserved more funding, according to data from California-based pollsters Change Research.
Nearly all of the 1,034 New Yorkers who responded said libraries were beneficial to disadvantaged and lower-income residents, many of whom lack reliable home internet access in an increasingly digitized world.
“This poll reinforces what we already know to be true,” tweeted Queens City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who chairs the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations.
“Our public libraries are indispensible to our communities,” he wrote.
Together, three systems — the Queens Public Library, the Brooklyn Library, and the New York Public Library — administer more than 200 branches across the five boroughs. They are seeking a combined budget increase of $35 million for the 2020 fiscal year, as well as a commitment to $963 million in capital funding over 10 years.
City libraries scored a victory in last year’s fiscal talks, with lawmakers greenlighting requests for an additional $76.7 million in expenses and capital funding.