Deespite impressively increasing usage, across the entire City of New York only eight libraries currently offer Sunday service and nearly 30% of our libraries are closed on Saturdays. In fact, New York City’s libraries already rank well behind Columbus, Ohio; San Antonio, Texas; Toronto; Chicago; and Detroit in average hours per week.
Every day our doors are closed is a day New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds miss out: children are deprived of story time, students can’t borrow books, jobseekers lose access to computers and the internet, and immigrants can’t attend English classes. Our libraries should be accessible for everyone. The rising demand shows our amazing potential to reach even more New Yorkers if we had the necessary funding to offer additional hours every week. As the CUF report states, “No other institution in New York serves so many different people in so many different ways.”
“NYPL President Testifies On Proposed City Budget Cuts” Press Release
The ongoing Republican assault on the federal government– their determined, decades old effort to disable it or shrink it down to meaninglessness– has a not-so-hidden effect: it impoverishes all of us. We used to have a post office system that was accessible and delivered mail six days a week; every year the post office has to cut services and cut hours. We used to have public libraries but more and more they too face cuts and closures.
The myth, of course, is that new technologies make old institutions obsolete. In fact, libraries are more important than ever and, as the New York example suggests, more popular than ever. The mail should be a public service. We cannot allow the right-wing to use the recession and their austerity programs and market myths to make us all collectively poorer. We need to fight for our libraries and our post offices in the same way we fight for our public schools.