A bevy of elected officials turned out this week for a rally to support the Queens Public Library following a recent announcement that the library could be forced to cut more than 400 staff members across the borough.
Thomas Galante, the library’s chief executive officer, said earlier this week that the city’s executive budget calls for $25.3 million in cuts to the Queens Library system.
If the City Council does not restore the funding for Fiscal Year 2012, the library will be forced to eliminate hundreds of librarians, clerks and custodians.
Galante joined Queens Borough President Helen Marshall as well as Council members Dan Halloran, R-Whitestone, Jimmy Van Bramer, D-Sunnyside, and Peter Koo, R-Flushing, for a rally at the library’s Flushing branch on Wednesday.
“The closure of a library is a waster of a valuable resource that provides a multitude of services for users of every age in the community it serves,” Marshall said. “Yet, we here in Queens face closures of branches that together make up the busiest library system in the city.”
The borough president said the Queens library drew more than 14 million visitors, who loaned a total 23 million items.
Under the city’s proposed cuts, the library would be forced to layoff 471 staff members, 48 borough branches would be closed four or five days per week, only 13 libraries would be open five days per week and the borough’s Central Library would be the only branch open on Saturday.
In addition, there would be no Sunday library service in the borough.
“Libraries provide invaluable services and programs that enrich our communities and improve the academic performance of children in our schools,” said Van Bramer, who is chairman of the Council’s Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee.
Fiscal Year 2012 would be the fourth consecutive year that the borough’s library system budget declined, resulting in shorter hours as well as fewer books and videos on the shelves.
There will be a rally against the proposed cuts on May 26 at City Hall.