Queens Library Guild, Local 1321 members and their partners fought to save New York City's libraries. Our advocacy campaign convinced our politicians that this city's libraries are an essential service and we needed full restoration. The Queens Library staff throughout Queens made a tremendous effort to advocate for their libraries. We held rallies, petition and postcard signing events, read-ins, hugs and other creative events.
To assist the staff with these events and ensure the events had the biggest impact, members of Local's Budget Action Committee provided posters and signs, advice, encouragement, communication with the Library's services, press and politicians and staffing for petition and postcard tables. Without their assistance, we would not have been as successful.
The following is a chronology of our campaign and press coverage. With the participation from everyone, we saved our libraries!
May 5, 2011 Assemblyman Ed Braunstein held a rally at the Douglaston/Little Neck Community Library to protest the budget cuts.
May 11, 2011 The L Magazine reported on the Urban Librarians Unite (ULU)'s Save NYC Libraries campaign to mobilize its advocates to fight the cuts. They had a postcard campaign, a 24-hour Read-in and more to bring attention to how these cuts will impact NYC's public libraries.
May 18, 2011 The New York Daily News reported that because of the massive $25.3 million budget cut, the Library's CEO Tom Galante issued 234 layoff notifications.
May 18, 2011 The Queens Courier reported on the diverse library supporters that came to the Flushing Community Library rally. Borough President Helen Marshall, Council Members Peter Koo, Dan Halloran, Jimmy Van Bramer and Leroy Comrie's representative Jamal Wilkerson and Assemblywoman Grace Meng's representative Don Capalbi attended the rally. Borough President Helen Marshall described how wasteful the cuts would be to Queens' libraries, the busiest in the world. Council Member and Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations Chair Jimmy Van Bramer spoke of the amazing amount of services the Library provides and will work tirelessly to restore as much funding as possible. Don Capalbi, Assemblywoman Meng's representative, talked of the diverse library patrons and the loss they would incur if the libraries closed.
May 21, 2011 Arverne, Seaside, Peninsula and Far Rockaway Community Libraries staff, Council Members Eric Ulrich and James Sanders, community groups and library customers held a "Rockaway Boardwalk March & Rally" to demonstrate the massive proposed budget cut. Council Member Ulrich told the crowd, “Libraries are hubs for the community...We need every library open and accessible.” Council Member Sanders told the crowd, “It is time Mayor Bloomberg readjusts his priorities. To close firehouses and libraries is wrong.”
May 23, 2011 The Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations held a hearing on the Mayor's proposed budget to libraries. Queens Library reported that it stopped buying new books. Chairman Van Bramer said, "This would bring libraries to their knees."
May 26, 2011 The Queens Library held a demonstration on the steps of City Hall in which library employees, politicians and their supporters protested the massive budget cuts. In a joint statement of support, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and City Council Member and Committee on Finance Chair Domenic Recchia stated, "We are disappointed that, after making a joint commitment to six-day library service in 2008, we have to see a 29% cut to the city's libraries." Council Member Domenic M. Recchia Jr., said, “The City Council is committed to protecting our libraries...Cutting libraries would be devastating for communities, because it would mean job losses, as well as the loss of programs important to New Yorkers, like after-school activities and services for people seeking employment. We intend to fight to ensure our libraries across New York City get the support they need.” Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said “New Yorkers deserve well-funded libraries...Throughout the five boroughs, libraries are an integral part of our education system, providing adult literacy programs and countless educational opportunities for children...I will continue to work with colleagues in the City Council, advocates and community leaders to restore as much of this vital funding as possible.” Council Member and Select Committee on Libraries Chair Vincent Gentile stated “Continuing to fund local libraries means we continue to believe in the future of New York City, the literacy of its children, the strength of its neighborhoods and the importance of technology in every person’s quality of life. I believe the Mayor and City Council must pass a budget that keeps one eye on today’s financial needs and another on the brightness of the city’s future, and only a budget that maintains our present library resources and access can accomplish that,”
May 31, 2011 In a letter to the editor, Democratic District Leader for the 38th State Assembly District, extolled the virtues of the City's public libraries, described all the things libraries provide its customers. He decried the drastic budget cuts and how they would negatively impact the citizens of New York City.
June 2, 2011 The Queens Chronicle reported on the budget cuts to the Library and how it would impact the Richmond Hill Community Library. The article provided a brief history of the branch and some of the things the branch offers. It also explained what the staff and community are doing to save the library including their upcoming rally.
June 2, 2011 The NY1 News report, filmed at the Central Library, detailed how the budget cuts will devastate library services. The reporter interviewed a customer who describes how important the library is to him and how angry he is about the proposed cuts. Also interviewed were Selina Sharmin, New Americans Program (NAP) Librarian and Tom Galante. They talked about how important the Library is and how the proposed budget cut will devastate the Library's services.
June 2, 2011 Library Journal and The L Magazine reported on ULU's upcoming Hug Schwartzman and 24-hour Read-in to protest the cuts. Library supporters will give the Schwartzman building a nice big hug on Saturday June 4th.
June 4, 2011 Save NYC Libraries gave NYPL's Schwartzman building a nice big hug. As described by Save NYC Libraries' organizers the hug symbolizes a human shield against budget cuts. Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer is quoted, "We have three weeks to save the library. This is a clarion call to librarians all over the country to embolden people to speak up to their Council Members and Mayor to save our libraries."
"I'm sure the library feels loved," Save NYC Libraries, June 5, 2011 http://www.savenyclibraries.com/?p=555
June 6, 2011 NYI covered City Council's contentious hearing including the heated exchange about the drastic library funding cut between Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and NYC OMB Director Mark Page.
June 6, 2011 Kids, staff, the Federated Blocks of Laurelton and Council Member James Sanders attended a rally to protest the drastic budget cuts. Council Member Sanders talked of how important libraries are to the neighborhood and how they need to be saved from drastic budget cuts. He also discussed his ideas for a progressive tax to help government provide services people need.
June 6, 2011 Building Bridges Radio: Your Community and Labor Report interviewed John Hyslop, President, Local 1321 to discuss library workers' fight against Mayor Bloomberg's proposed $25.3 million in budget cuts to the Queens Public Library. Since 2008, over 200 jobs have already been lost through attrition and layoffs. The current proposed 30% cut will result in library hours being at their lowest level ever, less than in NYC’s budget crisis of the 1970s. These cuts would slash library services; close branches 2-3 days a week; end free computer and Internet services; destroy the materials budget; and force 234 Library employees to be laid off. Local 1321 sponsored a demonstration outside the Central Library on Merrick Blvd.
June 7, 2011 Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer; representatives of Council Members Leroy Comrie, Daniel Dromm, Mark Weprin, Elizabeth Crowley and James Sanders; the Jamaica NAACP President Leroy Gadsden; Dennis Ifill, President, Local 1359; Val Colon, President, Local 1930; Cuthbert Dickenson, President, Local 374; Togba Porte, 2nd Vice President, Local 420; Christian Zabriskie, ULU; Thomas Galante, CEO, Queens Library; Barbara Edmonds, DC 37 Director of Field Operations; and girls from the Young Women's Leadership School stood in solidarity with Local 1321 to protest library funding cuts in front of the Central Library in Jamaica. At the rally Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer detailed his defense of libraries during his exchange with OMB Director Mark Page and stated he “nearly jumped out of his seat” when he heard Director Page say that maybe the libraries could be closed for something better. Council Member Daniel Dromm's representative said that this will be another budget dance and hopefully we will be able to get good restoration.
June 8, 2011 Girl Scout troops, the Friends of Richmond Hill Community Library, customers and Council Member Elizabeth Crowley rallied in front of the Richmond Hill Community Library to protest the Library's drastic budget cuts. Council Member Crowley said “It’s more worrisome this year because of a larger-than-expected $65 billion budget in tough economic times.”
June 9, 2011 Council Member Daniel Dromm and members of the community rallied at the Jackson Heights Community Library in support of full library budget restorations. Council Member Dromm said “Jackson Heights is the most diverse place. The one place where people can come together is the library.” After the rally Council Member Dromm read Cheryl Shaw Barnes' House Mouse, Senate Mouse to a group of children.
June 9, 2011 www.yournabe.com reprinted Democratic District Leader Albert Baldeo's letter supporting full budget restoration to libraries.
June 11-12, 2011 ULU's Save NYC Libraries does it again, 24 hour Read -in - reading in the cold and rain for 24 hours straight to protest proposed public library budget cuts! From 4 pm Saturday June 11 to 4 pm Sunday June 12, devoted library supporters read from their favorite books including the 17 year old Justin Bieber's autobiography First Step 2 Forever . This was an amazing event.
June 13, 2011 Locals 1930, 1482 and 1321's advertisement appears in am New York and Metro.
June 14, 2011 Children from P.S. 111, P.S. 112 and Voice Charter School, parents, staff and other customers rallied at Long Island City Community Library's "Kids Rally." A clown, the P.S. 111 dance team and the Voice Charter School performed.
June 14, 2011 Over 40 Local 1321 members participated in DC 37 massive rally to protest the Mayor's budget. The story is covered by many news outlets. Jane Jacobs, Assistant Coordinator of Catalog, is interviewed by WNYC.
June 15, 2011 George Stamatiades, Library Trustee and former President of the Board of Trustees hung a sign from his house protesting the Library's budget cuts. He will keep the sign up throughout the negotiations. Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer applauded Mr. Stamatiades' efforts.
June 15, 2011 North Forest Park Community Library's customers and civic groups rallied against the drastic budget cuts.
June 15, 2011 Woodhaven Community Library held a rally to protest the budget cuts. Kids, parents, Assembly Member Mike Miller's representative, Council Member Elizabeth Crowley's representative, the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation and Woodhaven Resident's Block Association came out to protest the cuts. Children's Librarian Ken Gordon was featured in a New York Daily News article. The article discussed how much the children love Ken and his work at the Woodhaven Library and how disappointed they will be if he gets laid off.
June 16, 2011 Locals 1930, 1482 and 1321's advertisement appears in the Community Newspaper Groups' newspapers throughout New York City including Caribbean Life. In Queens that includes the Times-Ledger newspapers.
June 16, 2011 On the steps of City Hall, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer accepted over 250,000 signed petitions and postcards from New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, Queens Public Library and Urban Librarians Unite collected over the past four weeks.
June 24, 2011 Mayor Bloomberg and City Council agreed to a budget, details of which still needed be worked out. The Awl provided a good summary of the how this year's budget process transpired and wrote of the City Council's proposal to baseline library funding to prevent this budget back and forth. yournabe.com announced the deal but the impact on libraries was still unknown. Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said that the staff at Community Libraries' activism helped save the libraries.
June 27, 2011 Writer Michael Powell provided an accurate account of the negative impact the budget process and the Mayor's proposed budget had on the lives of two city workers, one of which was NAP Librarian Selina Sharmin.
June 29, 2011 The Mayor and City Council's budget restored $23 million of the $25 million proposed cut. Queens Library Administration rescinded all the layoff notifications and the library can maintain five day service!