By GREGORY N. HEIRES
Before today’s City Council budget hearing, library advocates gathered on the steps of City Hall this morning to demand more funding for the city’s three public library systems.
Union and city leaders, along with the heads of the library systems, joined community activists and library workers to call on the City Council to provide an extra $24 million to fund seven-day library service.
Only 15 of the city’s 216 libraries are open seven days a week.
They also asked the council to approve an additional $150 million to help the library systems continue to carry out their long-term $1.1 billion capital plan. The funding would be used to address chronic flooding, faulty air conditioners and heating systems, overcrowding, outdated electrical systems, broken elevators and insufficient space.
“Our communities need funds for seven day service in this budget,” DC 37 Executive Henry Garrido.
“The budget is an expression of the values that the city holds dear; one of those values is our thirst for knowledge, which the City Council should promote by boosting support for libraries,” Garrido said.
“There is no City of New York without public libraries,” said Jimmy Van Bramer, the City Council’s majority leader.
Andy King, chair of the council’s library subcommittee, described libraries as the primary institution that preserves the city’s culture and history. “We are asking the administration to do the right thing,” King said.
Other speakers included Queens Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott, Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda E. Johnson and New York Public Library President Tony Marx. DC 37 library locals presidents John Hyslop, Valentin Calon and Cuthbert Dickenson accompanied Garrido at the rally.