Rockaway Rallies To Save Local Libraries
East met west last Saturday afternoon as Rockaway residents and staff members of Rockaway’s libraries came together to fight the impending $25.3 million cuts to the Queens Library in the mayor’s executive budget for Fiscal Year 2012.
Approximately 45 participants of the Boardwalk for Books march started on the boardwalks of Beach 60 and Beach 116 Streets and met at Beach 92 Street. Their chants of “Save Our Libraries” were heard as the two groups, now one, headed to the Peninsula Library on Beach 92 Street.
“Bloomberg, save our libraries. Cuomo save our libraries,” the protesters shouted. “Two, four, six, eight – we’re supposed to educate. Libraries have open doors.”
Demonstrators and supporters declared that libraries are essential for residents of every age. Seniors use them as a means to get together, young people use them as an alternative to hanging out on the street and those out of work use the job resources the libraries provide as well as the computers to look for and apply for jobs.
Councilman James Sanders Jr. told protesters, “It is time Mayor Bloomberg readjusts his priorities. To close firehouses and libraries is wrong.”
John Hyslop, the president of Local 1321 of the Queens Library Guild, said that among the 471 personnel threatened with layoffs are 234 clerks, custodians and other library staff without whom “libraries cannot function.”
To aid the libraries, Danny Ruscillo, the president of the 100 Precinct Community Council, announced that his Youth Council was donating $300 to the libraries within the group’s area for children’s books. He added, “I implore you Mr. Mayor, no budget cuts [for our libraries].”
Should the cuts become a reality, five day service at the majority of Queens Libraries would vanish, 471 staff would be laid off, the Central Library in Jamaica would be the only library open on Saturday, no libraries would be open on Sunday and Queens residents would have half the current access to borrow books, use computers, attend programs, get homework help, and use job resources.
On Monday the CEO of the Queens Library, Thomas Galante, added another wrinkle to the consequences of adopting the budget cuts. He told City Council members that, “We would seriously have to consider the outright closure of 14 community libraries in order to provide hours at the remaining libraries.”
The May 21 Rockaway Stand Up for Your Library rally was just one of many that have been held across Queens County. To find out more about helping your local library, go to http://www.- queenslibrary.org.
“Please sign up, log on and save our libraries,” said Kathy Buchsbaum, the manager of the Peninsula Library.