NEW YORK POST — No one in politics is against public libraries — yet somehow, New York City has cut funding for them by nearly a fifth over the past decade. Funds slashed in the wake of the 2008 meltdown haven’t been restored, even as city revenues shot up.
The city’s three systems — the Brooklyn Public Library, the Queens Library and the New York Public Library (which serves Manhattan, The Bronx and Staten Island) — have joined to ask for $65 million more a year to restore those cuts.
For starters, the funds would let many more branches open on weekends — vital to serving working people. It may be the most compelling “ask” now on the table, right up there with the NYPD’s hope for the funds to add 1,000 cops to the force.
We’re not looking to bust the budget. But while the spigot’s open, cash ought to go to core services.
Mayor de Blasio won’t need much arm-twisting from the City Council: Libraries do more to fight inequality than anything else in the city — for they provide universal access to the world of words.
They’re gateways to almost all opportunity.
From English lessons for new immigrants to safe after-school programs in rough ’hoods to free high-speed Internet access, the 217 branches offer endless chances for the city’s strivers to move up in life.
So here’s hoping the rumors are true, and restoring $65 million is a done deal.
Yet the libraries also have capital-spending needs. For decades, the city failed to set aside funds for repairs.
De Blasio this year broke with that, including some library brick-and-mortar outlays in the city’s capital budget.
But that commitment covers just a third of the libraries’ needs over the next decade for huge problems like failed AC at the Brownsville Library and decrepit bathrooms in the Port Richmond Library — and for opportunities like the unused third floor at the 125th Street Library.
Of course, New Yorkers can help out directly. To give, seefoundation.queenslibrary.org, nypl.org/support/donate and bklynlibrary.org/support.
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