New York City FY17 Budget To Ensure Baseline Library Funding

For the second year in a row, the proposed New York City capital budget provided a healthy allocation for the city’s three library systems. In a handshake agreement announced on June 8, Mayor Bill de Blasio—along with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Finance Committee Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, and members of New York City Council—presented the proposed $82.1 billion capital budget, which included $43 million in funding for New York’s three library systems. The funding restores and baselines an extra $21 million for libraries in FY17.
Mayor Bill de Blasio Announces Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Agreement with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Members, City Hall, New York. Wednesday, June 8, 2016. Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announces FY17 Budget
Agreement with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Members, City Hall, New York
Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

For the second year in a row, the proposed New York City capital budget provided a healthy allocation for the city’s three library systems. In a handshake agreement announced on June 8, Mayor Bill de Blasio—along with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Finance Committee Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, and members of New York City Council—presented the proposed $82.1 billion capital budget, which included $43 million in funding for New York’s three library systems. The funding restores and baselines an extra $21 million for libraries in FY17. Baseline funding, which has long been a goal for the city’s library budget, allocates a fixed amount of money each year rather than requiring a yearly “budget dance” negotiation between City Council and the administration, which limits libraries’ ability to plan for the long term—public library systems in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Detroit, Columbus, and Pittsburgh all receive various forms of baseline funding. This will enable Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and Queens Library to make permanent the six-day service initiated in FY16, and to fund needed capital upgrades to branch buildings. The budget, on which agreement was reached at the earliest point in its cycle in more than a decade, also provides for criminal justice services, the Department for the Aging, the Emergency Food Assistance Program, summer youth jobs, cultural organizations, and the extension of pool and beach season, among other line items.  “This budget is not only on time—it’s the earliest agreement since 2001, because the administration and Council worked together to produce tangible, timely results for New Yorkers,” de Blasio said at a City Hall press conference. “New Yorkers win with this investment in libraries,” said the three branches in a joint statement. “[O]ur expanded hours, education programs for all ages and efforts to close the digital divide will continue, and we hope to build on them in the years to come. By strengthening our libraries now and in the future with this historic baselining, the Mayor and City Council will help strengthen all of New York's communities."

BASELINE SECURITY

The addition of the guaranteed baseline sum will provide an important foundation for the three library systems to build on. “Baselining is important,” QL president and CEO Dennis Walcott told LJ. “It means stability. It means knowing that we'll have six days a week service and then…it gives us the floor to build more.” “This is the first time we’ve had baselined six day service for libraries in over a decade,” said City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Queens), Majority Leader and Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations, in a City Council press statement. “Gone is the budget dance that clouded our libraries’ futures each year.” "The historic baselining of this $43 million not only preserves gains such as citywide six-day service, an increase in Sunday and overall hours, the addition of nearly 250 librarians, and increases in early literacy and technology programs this year,” NYPL President Tony Marx said in a statement to LJ, “it also strengthens libraries financially for years to come. And when libraries are strong, New York's communities are strong." Aside from providing open hours six days a week, having a dedicated funding stream means that the city’s libraries will be better able to plan programs, services, and innovations. Walcott plans to present a budget to the QL board as early as the third week in June, he told LJ. “I'm going over a variety of scenarios now that we know what the budget picture looks like. With an early budget by the city, it gives us a little more time to plan properly and not just be in a position of constantly reacting. I'll have more information about those next steps after I meet with the board.” Walcott is interested in “expanding programs, taking a look at how we refine what we're doing to reach more people, and to shore up our collections and be more responsive to the needs of the…different communities where our libraries are located.”

A COLLECTIVE EFFORT

In 2015, New York libraries coordinated a strong campaign to reverse the negative trend that had left city library funding down $65 million from 2008. A letter-writing campaign, including testimonials from beloved authors, a 24-hour “read-in” at City Hall, and rallies across the city helped bring attention to the need for a pre-recession budget. The result was an additional $43 million budgeted for FY16, which allowed all three systems to institute six-day service, as well as extending hours and creating—or restoring—positions. Still $22 million below 2008 funding levels, New York’s libraries resumed their efforts in 2016. The advocacy site #InvestInLibraries urged New Yorkers to “Keep investing in libraries,” asking visitors to submit one sentence apiece describing how libraries have changed their lives. Authors including Patti Smith, Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), and Anna Deavere Smith wrote letters of support. This year local advocacy group Urban Librarians Unite (ULU) organized a 24-hour Read-In at NYPL’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building from June 4–5. Although the weather presented a challenge—“There was actually a storm warning on Sunday telling people to stay home,” reported Christian Zabriskie, ULU executive director and a 2012 LJ Mover & Shaker. Between 300 and 400 readers showed up despite the rain, including District 6 City Council member Helen Rosenthal and every one of the 16 authors who committed to reading at the event. “It was a great event for us,” Zabriskie told LJ. “Ultimately what it did is show the community just how serious we are about this, and how important their library is to us as advocates.” The resulting baselined budget, he said, “is really important for us. It's a way to stop having the budget battle every year.”  But despite the positive outcome, Zabriskie added, “We're still going to be pushing [for libraries]—it's not like we're going to go away.” The message was one of positivity and can-do energy, from library patrons to staff to city administration. “It was a collective effort,” noted Walcott. “The [library] staff, the board, the community, the elected officials, were all very positive about this. I think it really shows what we represent as a library system throughout the city of New York and how the mayor and the City Council want to invest and in and stabilize the system.” "This year's budget is a significant victory for New York City's libraries and the people who so strongly rely on them for access to critical resources," said Marx. The budget will now go to the full City Council for a vote, where it is expected to be approved.
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thomas breen

I have spent my first time in your main library back in May of this year I found that it was a great experience, everyone was so helpful and friendly I look forward to the next time I can get there.I was born in New York but I live in Maryland I come to N.Y once a year to visit family but my roots will always be New York. my visit was a family research project. thank goodness you got the money to keep going to have lost it would been a slap in the face to all of New York, thank you T. Breen

Posted : Jul 30, 2016 05:56


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