Advocates Rally to Keep Queens Libraries Open

By Catherine Yang, Epoch Times
January 25, 2010 Updated: January 25, 2010

NEW YORK—Outside the Queens Borough Public Library, former Councilman David Weprin joined the Queens Civic Congress Vice President Harbachan Singh and Council Member Mark Weprin in a rally against service cuts to Queens public libraries on Sunday, Jan. 24.

“I recognize the difficult times facing our city and the critical choices before our public officials,” David Weprin said. “City Hall must make it a priority to fully support core services; that includes our libraries. This means making our branch libraries true community resources by ensuring these signature facilities open seven days a week and eight to ten hours per day. That ought to be the goal.”

Due to cuts in city and state funding, a number of public libraries in Queens will no longer be open on weekends starting Feb. 1. According to the Queens Library Web site, among those that will only be open Monday through Friday are: Arverne, Astoria, Baisley Park, Court Square, East Elmhurst, East Flushing, Kew Garden Hills, Lefrak City, North Forest Park, Ozone Park, Queensboro Hill, Ridgewood, South Hollis, and Windsor Park.

“The Queens Borough Public Library may serve only one county in New York, but it continues to gain renown as the largest circulating system in the world,” Weprin said. “Queens libraries offer much more than books and periodicals. Each serves as a multimedia center and a place of community gathering and activity. This includes poetry readings, lectures, puppet shows, adult literacy, and English as a second language programs, as well as free use of computers that provide opportunities for online research and communication. It also serves as a zero cost to the city after-school and latchkey program.”

On Jan. 30, this coming weekend, East Elmhurst, one of the libraries that will be losing weekend service, is hosting an afternoon of jazz with the Jazz Unlimited orchestra and vocalist Walter Jackson.

“Each branch library serves as a vital component to a community, serving from the wealthiest to the poorest residents. Thousands of residents live within walking distance of their nearest library branch,” Weprin said. “While our legislators do their part, mayors and governors should provide more funds in their budgets. Our mayor needs to get over an atrocious annual act that severely impacts and really kills service when most of our kids are out from school.”

Starting July 1, 16 more branches will lose weekend service because of the loss of funds. Weprin urged the public to call 3-1-1 and ask the mayor to restore funding for public libraries in Queens.