2004-06-11 / Community

Addabbo Rallies To Protect Libraries

Contributing Editor
By Miriam Rosenberg

Addabbo Rallies To Protect Libraries


Valerie Kilmartin (Branch Director for Queens Library System) and Councilman Joseph Addabbo, Jr. go over the figures that show the inequality in city funding for the Queens Libraries. Also pictured is Jimmy Van Bramer (Manager Government and Community Relations, Queens), Frank Gulluscil (Democratic District Leader).Valerie Kilmartin (Branch Director for Queens Library System) and Councilman Joseph Addabbo, Jr. go over the figures that show the inequality in city funding for the Queens Libraries. Also pictured is Jimmy Van Bramer (Manager Government and Community Relations, Queens), Frank Gulluscil (Democratic District Leader).

By Miriam Rosenberg

Contributing Editor

City Councilman Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. hosted rallies at two Rockaway branch libraries, the Peninsula branch (June 2) and The Seaside Branch (June 3), in an effort to fight cuts proposed by Mayor Bloomberg’s budget for fiscal 2005 that would severely affect the New York City Library system.

"If we were to accept the Mayor’s budget right now, 21 libraries in Queens would be affected," said Addabbo.


Using graphs from the NYC Office of Management and Budget, Councilman Addabbo explains the inequality of city funding for the Queens libraries.Using graphs from the NYC Office of Management and Budget, Councilman Addabbo explains the inequality of city funding for the Queens libraries.

"We should never balance the budget on the backs of safety – the police and fire – and education which includes the library."

The Interim Director of the Queens Borough Public Library, Thomas W. Galante, testified at a City Hall hearing about the budget on May 21.

"Instead of restoring funding, which has already cut books and library hours and days of service, the proposed budget would close additional libraries throughout the borough," said Galante. "Twenty-one community libraries would close additional days if the Executive Budget is enacted. That’s libraries open three or four days a week."

During the last round of cuts to the Library system, many branches in Queens lost weekend hours. Currently only 44 of the 62 libraries in Queens have Saturday hours explained Valerie Kilmartin, the Branch Director for the Queens Library system. Far Rockaway is the only Rockaway library with Saturday hours.


Councilman Addabbo addresses a group that included library staff at the Peninsula rally.Councilman Addabbo addresses a group that included library staff at the Peninsula rally.

Addabbo is also seeking equality in funding for the libraries in Queens.

The Queens Library system has the highest visitation and circulation rates in the city. Yet, as Addabbo pointed out, Manhattan gets the most funding.

"What’s wrong with this picture?" asked Addabbo at the rally on June 2.

Addabbo said the magic number of $4 million would keep the libraries going without any cuts. The miracle number, as he put it, is $14 million that will restore library service to where it was two years ago – including bringing back Saturday operations.

The libraries provide services such as programs for latchkey children, events for seniors, access to the Internet for students and summer activities for young people.

In addition, there are six branches in Queens that have adult learning centers.

The Peninsula Library is the only branch to have such a program in the Rockaways. Peninsula’s adult learning center serves 150 people. If the library’s hours are cut, so are the learning center’s.

"The library’s customers are our students," said Seena Sweet, who oversees the library’s learning center where reading, writing and ESL are taught.

Karen Lowenstein, the branch manager for the Peninsula Library told The Wave that – among other things – they would like to expand hours and open on Saturday but they need the funding to so.

Petitions to protect funding for the libraries are in every branch.

These petitions will be sent to the mayor. In addition, Addabbo urged library staff members to get people to email, call or write the mayor’s office to let Bloomberg know how important the libraries are to the community.

"There is not a lot of public input and notification of what’s happening," explained Addabbo, who said that people often find out about library budget problems after the cuts are made.


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