Invoking the great Yogi Berra while speaking at todays preliminary budget hearing, Councilmember Vincent J. Gentile, Chairman of the Select Committee on Libraries, called the Mayors proposed budget cuts for libraries déjà vu all over again. The annual budget dance typically involves the Council restoring the Mayors proposed cuts but this years proposed library budget is approximately $100 million less than last year.
In his testimony today, Gentile quoted some recent statements made about libraries and their value by the Mayor and his agency heads.
Rob Walsh, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services said, More and more people are turning to public libraries to use their resources to find jobs and start businesses. Meanwhile the Mayor himself said, Libraries have always served as gateways to opportunity, so they make great locations for our career counseling and job placement services.
Now I realize when the Mayor puts together his budget, he is forced to make some very difficult choices, said Gentile. But why would he cut funding to the very institution he has lauded as the gateway to opportunity?
These remain difficult questions in difficult times. Gentile, along with Cultural Affairs, Libraries & International Intergroup Relations Chair Jimmy Van Bramer, stated that New York City simply cannot afford the cost of not ensuring as much access and support to libraries as possible.
Some say that we cannot afford to fund libraries. I say we cannot afford to be without libraries, said Gentile. When I consider the wide range of services our great City provides, I cannot think of a better investment in our City and in our future than the continued investment in our libraries.