NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Public libraries are facing several million dollars in budget cuts.
Now, one of New York City most famous fictional writers is leading the push-back, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported.
A little girl named Oksana, who is all of 2 years old, was all smiles as her father read out loud. The two of them were parked on a bench in the children’s section at the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza on Tuesday.
They go to the library several times a week.
“For the community and the books. I think both of them are equally important,” library patron Peter Oviatt said.
They’re not alone. From the books to the free Wi-Fi and computers to the kids’ music program, people across the five boroughs say they rely on their local library.
“Oh my God, we need them. We thrive on them. We learn, we meet people,” patron Larry Posner said.
Web Extra: NYC Public Library Supporters Rally Outside City Hall
The Brooklyn Public Library alone runs 72,000 free programs every year across the borough, programs that are in jeopardy if citywide funding cuts go through, Grymes reported.
The proposed city budget includes at least $11 million in cuts to libraries. On Tuesday, city council members and advocates rallied before a hearing, asking Mayor Bill de Blasio to restore funding. They are worried branches will have to cut service drastically, especially on weekends.
“All five boroughs need strong, well-funded public libraries that are open to the public,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “No city that claims to be progressive and claims to be the ‘fairest big city in America’ should be cutting libraries. When libraries are open, people who are unemployed, who are looking for work, are able to be helped.”
Their fight also has some star power. Actress Sarah Jessica Parker channeled her famous “Sex and the City” character in an email she wrote to library patrons.
“As Carrie Bradshaw might, I couldn’t help but wonder: Can New York City survive without strong public libraries?” Parker wrote.
But the mayor has a budget to adhere to and taxpayers to answer to, and his spokesperson argued, “We’ve made a record level of investments in the city’s libraries,” including “… investing more than $1 billion over the next 10 years for facility improvements across the three systems.”
But that money is separate from the operating budget, such as staff payroll, where the cuts are coming from.
Parker is encouraging New Yorkers to post an on-line sticky note at investinlibraries.org to let the mayor and city council know what makes your local branch essential.
The city council is expected to vote on the budget by the end of June.