Mayor proposes to slash $43 million from NYPL


By MIAWLING LAM

Fewer library books could be purchased and staff hours could be slashed if austerity measures outlined in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s preliminary budget proceed as planned.

Under the draft budget released earlier this month, city funds for the New York Public Library could be cut by nearly $43 million in fiscal year 2013.

The proposed cutbacks come as the city razor gang searches for billions of dollars in savings to offset a collapse in tax revenues and a slowdown in economic growth.

NYPL Network Manager Jane Fisher said the planned cuts represent a 44 percent reduction from what the city funneled into the service in fiscal year 2008.

“It’s preliminary, as it always is, but the mayor has proposed a $42.6 million cut to libraries,” she said. “It could impact our book budget, staffing at the branches and all of those things.”

Fisher said a $40 million budget reduction was in the cards last year but that thanks to intense lobbying efforts, only $2.5 million was eventually lost.

However, the succession of belt-tightening measures was definitely hurting branches, Fisher said.

“It’s been hard to have these cuts from 2008 to maintain the level of service that the library wants,” she said.

Fisher said the NYPL would embark on a similar campaign to one waged last year, encouraging library patrons to write letters to their elected officials.

“We’re gearing up to seek library users to advocate to restore some of this proposed cut.”

Community Board 8 Libraries & Cultural Affairs Committee chair Robert Abbott addressed the upcoming battle at last Monday’s meeting and resolved to help the NYPL in any way possible.

“I’m surprised that we’re three to four months away from a budget being in place and we’re still talking about cuts,” he said. “It’s distressing that this is happening so late in the game.”

Bloomberg’s preliminary budget is traditionally the first step in a lengthy back-and-forth process with the City Council, with both sides negotiating until a budget is finalized in June.

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