Libraries are beacons for their communities, providing open arms and invaluable services to all ages and backgrounds. In order to keep these programs and libraries alive, librarians must now act the fundraiser; pushing book drives, writing grants, and sending out countless pleas for donations. Librarians are also using social media to bring together communities to support libraries. On June 4th, I linked arms with 200 other supporters in the “Hug a Library” flash mob around the Schwarzman New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue.
For a full five minutes, our human chain “hugged” and supported this revered NYC institution. This is just one of many actions taken by New York librarians in response to Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed $40 million budget cuts from branches in Manhattan, Bronx, and Staten Island, in addition to $25.5 million cuts for Queens libraries and $25.2 million for public libraries in Brooklyn.
If the reductions go through, hundreds of librarians will be laid off, branches will be closed, hours reduced, and programs canceled. During the economic downturn, libraries are becoming even more important to the communities they serve. Libraries are where children go after school to wait for working parents, finish homework, and receive tutoring help from online services, such as Tutor.com. With shorter hours and fewer branches, libraries will be forced to turn people away, at the very moment when the community needs their services the most.
The “Hug a Library” gathering was spearheaded by children’s librarian Ingrid Henny. Sporting a pixie haircut, pink beads, and patchwork apron, Henny was busy convincing anyone who passed by to join the flash mob and show their support. “Luckily, in addition to being brilliant, innovative, and devastatingly attractive, library workers are a scrappy bunch,” Henny posted in her blog, Magpie Librarian.
You can show your support of New York libraries by participating in an upcoming event or sending a letter or email to Mayor Bloomberg’s office, voicing your opinion of the library budget cuts.
– Laura Brown, Library Team Intern, NYU Graduate School Student and Library Lover