Adams Hints $58M Funding Cut That Forced Libraries to Close on Sundays Could Be Restored

Mayor Eric Adams would not formally commit to restoring the $58.3 million budget cuts to the city’s three library systems but at his weekly press conference on April 30, he hinted that he and City Council speaker Adrienne Adams are looking at ways to restore the funds.

| 06 May 2024 | 12:47

One of the more controversial cuts outlined by Mayor Eric Adams last November as he was trying to close what he projected was a $7 billion budget deficit was the $58.3 million cut to the city’s libraries.

That caused libraries across the city to shut on Sundays and the worry is that if other threatened cuts still on the table are enacted in fiscal 2025, then that would force libraries to have to close on Saturday’s as well.

But in his weekly press conference at City Hall on April 30, Adams hinted that library funding might be restored.

”The budget dance and music is still playing,” Adams said when asked directly about a possible restoration. “Let’s allow it to finish before we do a full evaluation.”

He also insisted his administration did not necessarily mandate that libraries shut down on weekends, that it was a move the libraries made when confronted with the deep cuts they were facing.

“The administration did not determine that libraries should close Saturdays and Sundays,” Adams said. “Everyone was given instructions to find efficiencies, they determined how.”

The presidents of the city’s three public library systems Dennis Walcott of Queens; Linda Johnson of Brooklyn; and Tony Marx of NYPL, which also operates the Staten Island and Bronx public libraries railed against the cuts at a demonstration at city hall on March 12 in a bid to put pressure on Adams.

“Not a single library—not a single library in the City of New York, the greatest city in the world—is open seven days a week,” said Walcott. “This is New York City. That’s unacceptable.” Asserted Johnson: “Our libraries need more, not less. Our patrons deserve more, not less.”

After proposed cuts in the 2024 budget, the City Council’s fully restored library funding but Marx pointed out that in November Mayor Adams’ “PEG” (Program to Eliminate the Gap) budget reductions saw NYPL lose $10.33 million in funding. The Sunday library closures and reductions in services, programming, building maintenance and hiring followed.

For fiscal year 2025, Marx continued, NYPL would lose another $25.5M. “If implemented the impacts will be both devastating and unprecedented,” and threaten every part of the system, including the planned reopening of branches now under renovation, including, in Manhattan, two historic Carnegie libraries at Fort Washington and 125th Street.

“This budget dance,” Marx continued, “distracts us from effectively serving New Yorkers. Instead of spending time adjusting our offerings to be more reflective of community needs, our branch services team is trying to figure out how to maintain the current level of offerings with unfilled vacancies and more cuts on the way... So let’s end this year-round uncertainty and give New Yorkers the reliable, dependable service that they deserve.”

Mayor Adams said he and City Council speaker Adrienne Adams have the decision under review.

“Speaker Adams and I have successfully landed two budgets through some very difficult times, and we’re going to continue to do so,” said Mayor Adams. “We know how important libraries are. I used them a lot when I was in school, we got it. That’s why we were extremely understanding during the PEGs in January, there was no PEG in April, no efficiency challenge for them as well. Let’s let the speaker and the mayor and their team finish moving forward on this.

He added, “In New York City, we click our heels together and we know everything is possible. This is where dreams are made in the great city of New York.”