Tag Archives: budget cuts

Cuts, Moves, and Downsizing at NYC Libraries

IMG_0050Yet again, another sad story about libraries losing funding — and this time, it’s regarding one of the most well-known libraries worldwide, the New York Public Library.

According to The Screwy Decimal, a blog written by a public librarian from Brooklyn, New York City’s preliminary budget is proposing a 35% cut in library funding, the largest funding cut that NYC libraries have ever faced. The $106.7 million library budget could result in slashing library hours in half, eliminating almost 1500 jobs, and closing more than 60 libraries.

This comes just after news broke that the Brooklyn Public Library (which is included in the New York City Library System) would be selling its two libraries — one in Brooklyn Heights and one in Boerum Hill. According to NYC real estate site The Real Deal, the library in Brooklyn Heights will be sold, with the lower floor remaining a library and the upper floors being converted into apartments. The library in Boerum Hill will be relocated to an as-yet unnamed space, set to open in 2016. It will remain open in its current location until the new space is ready.

With all the moves, cuts, and closures, it’s obvious that libraries aren’t able to offer what they once did simply because of financial restraints. And it’s a shame because with the economy the way it is, and with libraries advancing in a technological capacity, library usage is on the rise. If my library closed or cut hours, I would be devastated. Thoughts?

 

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The State of School Libraries

I remember the first time I visited my school library and was told by the librarian “This isn’t a library.”

“What is it, then?” I thought, as I looked around at the bookshelves fully stocked with books and a world of imagination and information.

“It’s a media center.”

At first, I had no idea what that meant. But as I got older and took on more research projects, I learned the true meaning of “media center” and came to appreciate it. The days we were given to do research in the media center were so fun, not only because it meant less lecturing, butĀ  because we learned how to use all these programs I’d never heard of before — like LexisNexis, a large database of public records and information. Not to mention, the librarians — or rather, media center specialists — usually pulled for us the materials we would need.

But as school budgets are slashed and more teachers find themselves unemployed, school libraries and media centers face major cuts — no new books, no full-time staffing, no additional programming. I thought art education cuts were bad enough. Now this?

According to this essay by The Huffington Post, a group made a petition to fight education cuts that would force schools to be without fully operational media centers.

As a lover of learning and the daughter of a high school family and consumer science teacher, I’ll be the first to say how important it is to make sure our schools continue to get sufficient funding, no matter what kind of budget crisis our country faces. Children deserve it.

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Why the NY Public Library is Flourishing

“The New York Public Library is getting webbier by the day,” wrote The Atlantic reporter Alexis Madrigal in his compelling piece about the NYPL, one of the most famous libraries in the world.

In an age where libraries are dying due to e-books, budget cuts, and the ever-expanding “go green” and “paperless” movements, the New York Public Library not only remains open, but it makes significant profits. Granted, the NYPL receives massive donations unlike most other small libraries around the country. But the reason it’s succeeding is because of itsĀ  web-savvy ways. By connecting with library users through social media, the library is allowing people to expand on the information it’s already collected. Madrigal explains.

“Every magazine, television network, or radio station with an archive is sitting on gold. Get that stuff out of the basement and put it online for free, where people can link to, remix, and use it. But don’t just dump it there. Take advantage of what the web can do. Structure the work, as NYPL’s strategy head says, so that people can improve on your collection…When you put information in the hands of people, they come up with all kinds of stuff that people within an institution might not think about.”

For instance, the library has created its own iPad app, Biblion. And most recently, it launched a new log-in system through Bibliocommons, which both simplifies and strengthens the library’s catalog.

You can read much more about all of this in Madrigal’s article, “What Big Media Can Learn from the New York Public Library.”

It’s lengthy, but interesting and might give other media a clue about how to better connect with users, increase profit, and improve resources simultaneously.

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