Brooklyn Public Library facing $17.5M budget cut

Pending budget cuts are posing a major threat to an institution of public learning in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Bureau reports that the public library system is barely keeping its head above water after just over $1M in cuts last fiscal year. Now officials are wondering what will happen when that reduction is multiplied by 17:

The Brooklyn Public Library is the fifth-largest library system in the country but has faced decreases in operating hours despite word that some of the borough’s branches are extending their hours of service.

In this fiscal year alone, the Brooklyn Public Library has suffered a $1.2 million budget cut. It is now facing a $17.5 million cut in city funding, which would mean the loss of jobs and changes in services.

Unlike the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library does not have strong philanthropic support to maintain – or ideally, upgrade – existing resources. As a result, the library has cut back on the purchase of materials, making it difficult to acquire important publications that the public is often looking for. More notably, there has been a hiring freeze for the last four years.

Workers’ hours have also been considerably reduced as a result of budget cuts. Part-time reference librarian Shawnta Smith, 28, who also works at the young adult services wing, has been working at the library for three years. “I use to work twenty hours a week. Now I only work three hours a week,” Smith said. “They only keep me because of some sort of moral thing; they’d rather not lose another librarian.”

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