Sunday, June 06, 2010

We Will Not Be Shushed: A 24 Hour Read-In

June 12th -13th 5pm - 5pm
Front Steps of the Brooklyn (NY) Public Library @ Grand Army Plaza

The We Will Not Be Shushed 24-Hour Read-In brings New Yorkers together for 24-hours of continuous public reading to draw attention to budgetary issues. From 5PM Saturday to 5PM Sunday, in 20 minute increments, public library supporters and staff will read aloud from books of their choosing. As a reflection of the wide range of information to be found in libraries, and the diversity of New York City's library patrons, readings will span multiple genres, and include late-night scary stories and a Sunday morning storytime for children.

New York City is famous for its world-class public libraries. The three library systems serve 8 million residents from a combined 212 locations, numbering over 43 million visits in FY'09. Since the economic crisis began, library use has been at an all-time high, with many New Yorkers depending on their local library for access to the information, resources, and programs necessary to conduct job searches, complete their education, navigate the Internet, and access public services.

This year, public libraries are facing devastating budget cuts. Mayor Bloomberg's Executive Budget for FY'11 calls for a reduction in funding of $16.9 million for Queens Library, $20.6 million for Brooklyn Public Library, and $37 million for New York Public Library. This represents a cumulative 30% decrease in funding since 2008.

If enacted, the budget cuts will result in the closure of 40 libraries citywide - 16 branches at Brooklyn Public Library, 14 at Queens Library, and 10 at New York Public Library. 30% of library staff will be laid off, library service hours for many branches will be reduced to 2-3 days, and countless programs that New Yorkers depend on every day will be eliminated. Libraries' ability to assist New Yorkers with job searching, afterschool tutoring, computer access and instruction, English classes, and research will be heavily compromised. Unless the City Council votes to restore funding, library service levels will be sharply reduced by July 1, 2010.

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