Extended Days will Continue to Improve Access to Library Services for all New Yorkers

NEW YORK, NY – Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, together with Libraries Subcommittee Chair Vincent J. Gentile, Cultural Affairs Chair Domenic Recchia, Council Member Alan Gerson along with the New York, Brooklyn and Queens library systems visited The New York Public Library’s New Amsterdam branch to announce the preservation of full-day, citywide, six-day library service. Six-day library service, a top budget priority for the Speaker and the City Council was able to be preserved in these tough economic times.

The adopted FY 09 budget contained a total of $16 million in funding for the City’s three library systems. In retaining the days of operation, libraries will be able to increase access to vital services like improving literacy programs, providing career development, and increasing access to technology.

“While mostly everyone supports libraries, few recognize the important role they play in the context of workforce and in the community. Preserving library service to six, full days will continue to give all New Yorkers the chance to access an array of services from which they can benefit,” said City Council Speaker, Christine C. Quinn. “I want to thank the Administration, my colleagues in the Council and the New York, Brooklyn and Queens Public Library systems for conserving this funding.”

“This is a great day for library service throughout the City. Even though we’re in a tough budget season, we were able to keep New York, Queens and Brooklyn public library systems open six days a week. I am pleased that the Speaker, Mayor and the City Council leadership saw that this is at least one city agency that gives New Yorkers the most bang for their buck,” said Councilman Gentile, Chair of the City Council’s Library Committee.

“Maintaining funding for six-day library service in this year’s budget was one of my top priorities,” said Councilman Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., chairman of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries & International Intergroup Relations. “The fact that we were able to keep that money in the budget was a significant victory. Many people face responsibilities to school and work that prevent them from visiting our libraries during the week, and they need weekend access to these important sources of education and recreation.”

In addition, the branches that had been offering five day library service prior to the City’s great investment last year have seen attendance rates jump significantly since receiving a sixth day of service. In March, the number of materials circulated in the branches increased by 29% compared to the same month last year – that amounts to over 400,000 more items used by patrons. The preservation of funding will allow libraries to continue to meet the need for electronic materials, foreign language books, youth programming, higher education and job placement assistance, and other community functions.

“Mayor Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Quinn and the City Council have made a critical investment in libraries– six day service allows libraries to nurture, empower and educate tens of millions of New Yorkers every year,” said Paul LeClerc, The New York Public Library President. “This restoration of funding will allow our branches to continue to be open 52
hours a week Monday through Saturday. Ten of our branches, including the Bronx Library Center, Mid-Manhattan Library and the St. George Library Center in Staten Island will offer Sunday hours as well for 7 day service.”

New York Public Library
All of the New York Public Library’s 87 branches and 4 research libraries are now open at least six days per week. Each of the Library’s locations is open Monday through Saturday with ten branches also offering Sunday service. The New York Public Library has added 232 extra hours of service per week to the branch libraries, and an additional 31 extra hours of service for its research libraries. Just nine months into the fiscal year two million more items have already circulated and neighborhood branches have seen almost 800,000 more visits than last year – a 5% increase.

Brooklyn Public Library
The Brooklyn library circulated more than 16 million items – a 2% increase from the previous year. By having more consistent hours available to patrons, the Brooklyn Library has had its highest level of service in 40 years.

Queens Library
FY 2008 Queens Library again set an American record for circulation at 22,800,011 up +8.40% from FY2007. Queens Library remains the highest circulating library in the United States. Since the restoration of six-day service last year , the Queens library has circulated over 2.5 million items on Saturdays – a 62.5% increase. The number of people visiting on Saturday has nearly doubled in the past year going from 25,000 to 45,000 on an average Saturday.

New York City’s five boroughs are served by three independent library systems: the New York Public Library, which serves the boroughs of Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx, the Queens Borough Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library. The three library systems operate a total of four research libraries and over 200 local library branches, which provide over 65 million books, periodicals and other items to New Yorkers.