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Library budget cuts disservices New Yorkers

Nahiar Nokshi

Due to citywide budget cuts, The New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Public Library announced the end of Sunday service at most of its branches. The budget cuts will also impact the ability to purchase materials, continue programs and keep up with maintenance, creating a disadvantage for the city.    

Mayor Eric Adams announced budget cuts for libraries and schools on Nov. 16, stating the cuts are necessary to alleviate the costs of the migrant crisis.    

“No city should be left to handle a national humanitarian crisis largely on its own, and without the significant and timely support we need from Washington, D.C., today’s budget will be only the beginning,” Adams said.    

The library’s commitment to improving children’s literacy rates and keeping banned books available is important for the youth’s education. With recent bans on books and lower reading rates, budget cuts for the public library will only worsen issues.

Eliminating one day of service creates a barrier to accessing the library’s resources, as this one day of the week might be someone’s only day off from school or work.

Libraries are crucial to the public in ways beyond borrowing books and films. They also provide educational programs that teach various necessary skills, from using a computer to filing taxes.

The library also provides outreach programs aimed at helping the incarcerated and adult learners.

Public libraries serve as a third space that include access to a bathroom, food, heating and air conditioning. This is especially important during the extreme temperatures of winter and summer.

A third space that provides necessities, digital equity and educational services for billions of people is the last place for budget cuts.

In a 2019 poll of 1,034 people, 65% of respondents said they would have limited access to books and the internet. About 73% responded saying children and teens in their community would have few or no alternative free out-of-school programs if the library were not available.

The majority of those who benefit from these services are people in marginalized groups such as new immigrants, the elderly, homeless and low-income people.

Librarians and those aspiring to be librarians will also suffer the impact of budget cuts due to hiring freezes and low salaries.

Adams claims these budget cuts are a necessary response to the migrant crisis, estimated to cost the city $11 billion. However, critics say this claim is a scapegoat for the Adams administration’s incompetence and the threat of cutting the library budget has existed for many years.

“Stop suggesting that asylum seekers are the reason for imposing severe cuts when they are only contributing to a portion of these budget gaps, much of which already existed,” Brad Lander, the city comptroller, said.

Considering that some of the public libraries’ main dependents are immigrants, cutting the library would ultimately hinder the lives of the migrants Adams claims to support.    

Due to the rising population and aging infrastructure, additional funding for the library should be implemented. These funds would go towards renovations, more supplies and technology upgrades. It would be a worthy and long-overdue investment to make.    

Government funding the public library is necessary for society’s infrastructure. Public libraries should not have to rely on donations or reduce services in order to sustain themselves.

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