Public libraries across New York City’s five boroughs will be eliminating Sunday service and decreasing spending due to recently announced city budget cuts.
The three library systems — Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), New York Public Library (NYPL), and Queens Public Library (BPL) — shared the news last week after the city reported a 5% reduction of the adopted budget plan for the 2024 fiscal year, slashing municipal services across the board. The budget cuts follow a citywide public campaign to restore funding to libraries in June.
Mayor Eric Adams said that the mid-year cutbacks were a result of the growing asylum seeker crisis — a statement that was disputed by City Comptroller Brad Lander. The mayor also pointed to slowing tax revenue growth and depleting COVID-19 stimulus funding as factors.
“City Hall should 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,” Lander said last week in a public statement.
In addition to the reduced hours of operation, the budget cuts will also affect all three of the city’s library system’s spending on materials and programming, in addition to facility maintenance and repairs. The last day of Sunday service for all locations currently offering it in Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens will be November 26; for all Brooklyn public libraries, the last day of Sunday service will be December 17.
Elijah Fox, a spokesperson for Chi Ossé, the chair of the New York City Council Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations, told Hyperallergic that the budget cuts will impact critical public services available at libraries, including literacy programs and career preparation services.
“Without sufficient funding, we cannot sustain our current levels of service, and any further cuts to the Libraries’ budgets will, unfortunately, result in deeper service impacts,” a spokesperson for NYPL said in a statement. “We know how much New Yorkers rely on the vital resources we provide, and we remain committed to meeting their needs as best as we can.”