In a deal on the fiscal year 2016 budget struck late Monday night, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced an extra $39 million for the city’s libraries. The additional funding will allow for a restoration of six-day service at all branches across the city’s three library systems (Brooklyn, New York, and Queens) and create some 500 new jobs, Library Journal reported.
“This is a long time coming, and a very hard earned victory for libraries in New York City,” said City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, whom the Journal describes as “one of City Hall’s most tireless advocates for libraries.”
In his original FY2016 budget proposal, Mayor de Blasio allocated only $313 million to the city’s libraries — $10 million less than last year and a $65 million drop from 2008 funding levels. In response, Van Bramer and many other library advocates rallied public support behind a request for an additional $65 million. The newly announced compromise provides for just a little over half of that ($39 million) in operating funds, but de Blasio’s office has also agreed to a $300 million 10-year capital budget for the libraries — amounting to “the largest ever combined increase in operating and capital funding for public libraries,” according to NYPL President Anthony Marx. (Though advocates plan to continue campaigning for $1.4 billion in capital funding over 10 years.)
New York City’s libraries have struggled with funding cuts for nearly a decade. An April report by the Center for an Urban Future found that public libraries here were open on average 45 hours a week — “fewer hours per week than every large county in New York State except one” — and only 3% of them were open seven days a week. It also compared New York’s library hours to those of other urban centers across the country: out of the 10 largest cities, New York came in seventh. “Library service hours are an enormously important barometer of their effectiveness,” the report stated. “As Mayor de Blasio and the City Council negotiate a new budget, bringing the city’s library hours more in line with their peers across the state and country should be a high priority.”
In addition to reflecting that, the FY2016 budget introduces new funding for NYC parks, including money for gardeners and maintenance workers and an extension of beach season one week past Labor Day (to the tune of $687,000), the Gotham Gazette reported. It also, controversially, calls for the hiring of 1,297 new NYPD officers. The $78.5 billion budget isn’t completely final yet — the City Council will vote on it this week — but it’s “expected to pass without much fuss,” says Gothamist.
Bobby Wilson Combats Indigenous Stereotypes Through Humor
The artist-performer’s career undulates, ever so gracefully, across multiple mediums and registers of generational pain, healing laughter, and Indigenous joy.
Rare 19th-Century Silhouette Album’s Secrets Unlocked
Traveling portrait artist William Bache’s album depicts famous figures like Thomas Jefferson as well as people whose identity was previously unknown.
Haggerty Museum of Art Presents Tomás Saraceno in Dialogue With Dr. Somesh Roy
The artist and researcher will explore soot’s effects on climate change and public health in this online conversation.
McKnight Visual Artist Fellows Discussion Series at the Minneapolis Institute of Art
The series features 2021 Fellows David Bowen, Mara Duvra, Rotem Tamir, Ben Moren, and Dyani White Hawk in conversation with renowned curators and critics.
Artists Show What They Can Do With a Google Phone’s Camera
Works by 21 photographers are now on view in Manhattan for the seventh season and 100th project coming out of the Google Pixel Creator Labs.
Nevada Museum of Art Presents Adaline Kent: The Click of Authenticity
For the first time in nearly 60 years, the innovative yet under-recognized artist is the subject of a retrospective exhibition. On view in Reno, Nevada.
Met Museum Kicked Me Out for Praying to My Ancestral Gods
My danced prayer to looted Cambodian antiquities was too much for the New York museum.
A Museum Guard’s Ode to the Healing Power of Art
In All the Beauty in the World, Patrick Bringley revisits the many ways that art meets life, and life art, and how death is often the bridge between them.
The Public Theater in NYC Presents Plays for the Plague Year
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks’s theatrical concert chronicles the 2020 lockdown and the hope and perseverance that emerged from it.
UK Extends Export Ban on Coveted “Portrait of Omai”
London’s National Portrait Gallery was given a few months to acquire the work, which depicts the first Polynesian visitor to the UK.
The Sculptor Making Art With Loved Ones’ Ashes
Inspired by the three-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, Julian Stair’s exhibition honors the lives of eight people with cinerary jars.
Mondays at Pratt Institute: Weekly Openings of Work by Graduating Artists
Free and open to the public, Pratt Shows celebrate the school’s graduating students. MFA and BFA work on view this spring in Brooklyn, New York.
Art Institute of Chicago Under Scrutiny Over Sacred Nepali Necklace
The 17th-century object remains on display at the Chicago museum despite Nepal’s calls for repatriation.
Art Problems: How Do I Get a Public Art Commission?
Want to leave a mark on your city or town, but don’t know where to start? Paddy Johnson has some tips.
Even with the instant access to everything on the web, public libraries are one of few true marks of actual civilization, and a key element in the lifeblood of a democracy. While de Blasio’s original budget didn’t reflect their importance, it doesn’t appear he actively opposed this result. This deserves far more publicity than the overreaction on the part of police and demagogues to his understatement about their abuses.
Comments are closed.