2003-04-12 / Front Page

Local Libraries Lose Weekend Hours

Local Libraries Lose Weekend Hours

Most local libraries will be closed Saturday and Sunday beginning next month, library officials have announced.

Beginning the week of May fifth, the Peninsula and Seaside branches of the Queens Borough Public Library will join Arverne and Broad Channel as facilities that will be shuttered on weekends, according to library spokesman Joe Catrambone.

Only the Far Rockaway Branch Library will remain open on Saturday. There is no Sunday service at any library on the peninsula.

"50 of our 62 branch libraries will be open only Monday through Friday, with a greatly reduced 30 hour schedule as a result of city funding reduction," Queens Borough Public Library Director Gary E. Strong told the New York City Council Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Group Relations.

"Even during the Great Depression, libraries in New York City were open seven days a week," he added.

The reduction in operating hours, according to Catrambone, is directly tied to the city's budget crisis, is "an inconvenience to the communities of Queens."

Funding cuts have been lightening the pockets of Queens libraries for over two years, officials say.

According to Catrambone, the last time the system was fully funded was in late 2001. More recently, he said, 11 of 14 locations with Sunday hours were cut, including some in the Rockaway area. Funds for books, materials, staff, and services have all seen reductions.

The Queens libraries have the highest circulation of any public system in the country yet they "continue to get cut, and cut, and cut," said Catrambone

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