Just weeks after City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) and the rest of her Council colleagues saved the Queens Library from massive cuts in the city budget, she took a tour and saw exactly where the money went.
Quinn met with staff members at the Central Branch, at 89-11 Merrick Blvd., last week to thank them for their raising their voices because it helped give the Council the backing it needed to? reduce the cuts to the system from $25 million to $2 million during this fiscal year’s budget. The original cuts would have resulted in dozens of staff layoffs and a reduction in hours and services across the borough.
The speaker, who was joined by Queens Library Chief Executive Officer Thomas Galante and Councilmen Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) and Vincent J. Gentile (D-Brooklyn), said the library was an important resource for New Yorkers during the tough economic times.
“We want? to keep libraries as big and robust as possible,” she said.
Several rallies were held at branches all over Queens during the weeks of budget negotiations, and dozens of staff members and library users of all ages came out to show their support. The proposed reduction in the budget would have caused libraries to be open less than five days a week.
Van Bramer, who chairs the Council Libraries & International Intergroup Relations Committee and who also used to work as the Queens Library’s government liaison, said he and his fellow elected officials refused to accept balancing the city’s books on the backs of hardworking members of the branches.
“We saved a lot of jobs in the budget and we saved a lot of hope,” he said.
Comrie added that the branches in southeast Queens have offered his constituents needed services, such as Internet access and a place for seniors and youth to meet during their free time.
“I know the impact of the libraries,” he said.
The delegation got a tour of the central branch’s newest addition, the Discovery Center, which has already attracted library users of all ages. The center includes an upgraded children’s section and several interactive science exhibits.
The $38 million space was made possible from a funding from the Council over the years.
“We are so grateful to have a group that is there for the library,” Galante said.