Council members Jimmy Van Bramer and Julissa Ferreras-Copeland joined Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in Flushing at one of the busiest libraries in the country to formally announce the funding
“This is for them, these children, these families, these immigrant New Yorkers,” Van Bramer said of the crowd that had gathered. “Libraries make their lives so much better. It is about helping people live better lives. Libraries do that every day they are open, every hour that they are open.”
According to Bridget Quinn-Carey, interim president and CEO of the Queens Library, the public library system provides many New York City residents with the basic necessities of living in a technology-driven age.
“Thirty percent of households do not have access to broadband internet at home,” Quinn-Carey said. “In some communities, as high as 40 percent of people do not have Internet access. For many students, parents and job seekers, the public libraries are the only place they can access crucial resources.”
Carl Koerner, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Queens Public Library, said that often due to limited funding, libraries have to turn people away from their programs and services, such as literacy programs and career development.
“When the city went through difficult economic times, everybody had to cut back,” he said. “But now that the city has the ability to fund the services, everybody recognizes how important the six-day service is.”
Ferreras-Copeland attributed the funding to the focus and determination of each of the library system’s presidents, Quinn-Carey, Tony Marx of New York City, and Linda Johnson of Brooklyn.
“At the end of the day the biggest winners are the users,” she said.
In addition to providing more service hours and increased community programs to the public, the funding will create 450 jobs according to Koerner. Separate funding will go towards renovations and improvements of library locations, as well as the purchase of new books.
Mark-Viverito said that the best things in life are free, and that the increase in library funding will provide valuable resources to the lives of city residents.
“Time and again we see that libraries are a lifeline to so many in our communities and that they rely on the services they provide,” Mark-Viverito said.