2011-05-13 / Top Stories

Rockaway Libraries Fight Cuts With Rally

By Miriam Rosenberg

In response to what is being called “devastating budget cuts” for the Queens Library, a “Boardwalk for Books” walk and rally is scheduled for later this month.

On May 6, Mayor Bloomberg released the executive budget for 2012, and – if passed – library systems across the city are in for some deep cuts. In response to these cuts, which will decrease hours and the ability to buy new books, libraries across the peninsula are coming together on May 21 for a march along the boardwalk.

When the cuts were first proposed earlier this year, Thomas Galante, the CEO of the Queens Library, testified at a budget hearing for the Fiscal Year 2012, in front of the Queens Borough Board.

“Under the City’s proposed financial plan, Queens Library would start next year with a full 35 percent less City funding than we had when the recession (and the series of budget reductions) began,” said Galante in February. “Such a drastic reduction is truly difficult to contemplate, especially as demand for our services continues to grow.”

Saying that over the last few years a hiring freeze has been put in place, weekend hours have been reduced twice, only one library remains open on Sundays, and many services have been cut, Galante added, “There is simply nowhere else to trim; the impacts of another cut, the largest one ever proposed, will have a deep and dramatic effect on core library service boroughwide.”

According to an email from spokesperson

Joanne King on Tuesday, the library was still working on finalizing the details of the cuts. A final version of the cuts may be ready as early as this week.

“Right now, I can tell you that the proposed budget cuts to Queens Library are $25.5 million (32 percent) for FY 12 [Fiscal Year 2012],” said King. “If passed, it would mean: layoffs of 471 staff who provide valuable community services, severe cutbacks in library service, 48 community libraries would be reduced to service 2 or 3 days a week, weekend service would be even further curtailed, very limited access to all the library’s resources including public use computers, ESOL classes, job information, teen services, [and] all the rest.”

The Stand Up For My Library Rally in Rockaway has separate groups scheduled to meet on May 21 on the boardwalk at Beach 60 and Beach 116 Streets at 11 a.m. They will march to the Peninsula Library at 92-25 Rockaway Beach Boulevard and meet up at 12:30. A Buy a Book campaign is also underway. To learn more go to www.queenslibrary.org and click on ‘Queens Library Book Emergency.’

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