June 6, 2014
New York City library systems ask for support as circulation and visits rise
by Claire Kelley
The New York City library systems—Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens—are seeking to bring attention to library needs. They are calling for a $65 million dollar increase in library budgets from the city this year.
This weekend, Urban Librarians Unite, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting libraries, a will hold the 5th annual Read-In to rally support for the budget increase. The event will take place from 4 to 7pm on Saturday and Sunday on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza. Anyone can signup to reserve a time slot to read and to volunteer, and the schedule of events includes readings from Maud Newton, Lev Grossman, Amy Sohn and Marek Waldorf, as well as family story time, and a performance by the Rude Mechanical Orchestra.
Meanwhile, the Charles H. Revson Foundation and WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show sponsored the first NYC Neighborhood Library Awards last year, accepting nominations and feedback from the patrons and communities. All of the responses and winners are compiled in a brochure called “My Library Is.” The feedback features the wide range of library uses, and pictures of senior citizens working out in libraries, kids doing crafts, teens browsing the stacks, library job fairs, and branches—particularly in Rockaway Beach after Hurricane Sandy—that served as shelters last year.
This information about library activity reflects statistics that, according to New York Magazine, “Over the last decade, book circulation at New York City libraries has jumped by 46 percent, annual visits by 59 percent, and program attendance by 88 percent.”
This increase in use is part of the reason that library systems are advocating for an increase of $65 million in library budgets–the funding will allow for Mayor Bill deBlasio’s proposal for six day service across the city.
Claire Kelley is a the former Director of Library and Academic Marketing.