NYC public library funding restored, Sunday service to resume

Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch. Photo via WikiCommons

Mayor Eric Adams and the City Council reached a tentative deal to restore $58 million in proposed cuts to New York City public libraries just days before the budget is due. The mayor and Council Speaker Adrienne Adams on Thursday announced in a joint statement that $58.3 million in funding will be reinstated for the city’s three public library systems in the fiscal year 2025 budget, due June 30, as well as a separate $53 million for the city’s cultural institutions. The funding agreement allows libraries to resume Sunday service, which ended at all branches last fall following announced budget cuts.

NYC Council members held a rally protesting budget cuts to cultural institutions on June 21. Photo Credit: Gerardo Romo / NYC Council Media Unit on Flickr

“Our arts and cultural institutions and libraries are foundational pillars of our city, and New Yorkers depend on their services every day,” Speaker Adams said. “The Council has consistently championed funding restorations for these institutions as a top priority, and we’re proud to reach an agreement with Mayor Adams and the Administration to successfully secure these critical investments for them in the city budget.”

The libraries cut Sunday service at all branches that offered it after mid-year budget cuts were announced in November; library officials at the time said any further cuts could mean opening just five days per week.

In a statement released Friday from Brooklyn Public Library President Linda E. Johnson, Queens Public Library President Dennis M. Walcott, and New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx, the restored funding will allow branches to resume seven-day service in the coming weeks, “bringing our branches back to the same hours of operation prior to the 2023 cuts.” The funding will also continue universal six-day service, which has been in place at branches for nearly 10 years.

“Brooklyn, Queens, and New York Public libraries are thrilled that the budget agreement includes the full restoration of funding for public libraries – a resounding victory for all New Yorkers,” the statement reads. “We are honored to be able to continue the vital programs, initiatives, and hours of operation that this great city so clearly wants, needs, and deserves. Thank you, New York, for the overwhelming show of support on behalf of public libraries!”

The mayor has also reportedly agreed to provide $43 million in funding for the libraries annually in future years, as first reported by Gothamist, preventing the annual “budget dance” with City Hall.

“Since day one, our administration has been laser focused on delivering for working-class New Yorkers and by working side-by-side with our partners across the hall, we are proud to announce a full restoration of funds to both our libraries and cultural institutions in the upcoming budget,” Adams said.

“These institutions are a critical part of New York City’s social fabric, which New Yorkers depend on for their children’s growth and the vibrancy of our city. The budget will ensure these essential institutions will have what they need to serve New Yorkers and attract visitors every day of the week.”

The City Council is expected to approve the budget over the weekend, meeting its June 30 deadline.

In November 2023, Sunday service at NYC’s libraries was eliminated due to cuts in the fiscal year 2024 budget, which enacted a 5 percent reduction for every city agency. The mayor claimed that the budget cuts were necessary due to the city’s asylum seeker crisis, which had cost the city $1.45 billion at the time.

This past spring, the leaders of the city’s three public library systems testified at a City Council budget hearing to protest the proposed $58.3 million in budget cuts and the detrimental effects on library service.

A month later, Adams released his $111.6 billion budget proposal for FY 2025, rolling back previously planned cuts to cultural institutions, early childhood education, and the police, thanks to higher-than-projected tax revenue. However, funding was not restored to the libraries, although the mayor left room for negotiation.

In addition to the restoration of funding for libraries and cultural institutions, the budget adds $15 million in funding for maintenance and cleaning at dozens of parks, according to The City.

A formal budget deal will be announced on Friday. The proposed executive budget released in April was projected at over $111 billion.


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