New York City Libraries Face Budget Cuts

Leyla with Lori Talish, a New York City school librarian 

The New York Public Library (NYPL) has been around for 129 years. Millions of people visit the library’s 92 branches each year. Allison Ameduri, the NYPL’s children’s librarian, describes the library as “a free, public space where you can just walk in, grab a book, sit down, and read.” 

The library plays an important role in all five boroughs. “We have a library in almost every neighborhood in the city offering important services to people of all ages,” said Keith Powers, a member of the New York City Council. 

But the library system is in trouble. On November 16, 2023, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced that the NYPL’s budget would be cut by 5%. Other city agencies, including the police department, are also facing cuts. The mayor cited a recent influx of immigrants in need of housing and other services as a chief cause of the city’s budget shortfall. 

As a result of these cuts, the library is no longer open on Sundays. Library branches will also have to cut book purchases and programming. 

“I think the library budgets have been cut before, and to cut them again this year, would be doing a real disservice to the communities,” said Lori Talish, the librarian at Public School 59. The Mayor had proposed a 4% budget cut earlier in 2023. However, he reversed his decision after many New Yorkers expressed concern about the impact of reducing library services.   


Leyla with NYPL enthusiast Agata Beleffi


According to Talish, the NYPL provides valuable resources to people around the city. These include storytime for children, Internet connectivity, and personal hotspots for middle and high school students to do their homework. The library also offers books in several different languages, recognizing the fact that New Yorkers come from all over the world. 

“For us, the City Council in particular, we have constituents of all ages who love to use their library and understand the value of it,” Powers said. “It’s been a big priority of the City Council that it’s well-funded.”

New Yorkers of all ages are speaking out about the importance of libraries. “The New York Public Library is important to me because it helps me access as many books as I want, expanding my imagination and knowledge,” said Agata Beleffi, 11, of Manhattan. 

As Powers said, “Libraries [offer] an opportunity for people to find out about the world around them. That means reading about subjects you didn’t know about and things that sometimes might be controversial.”

Even Mayor Adams agrees. He announced this month that the NYPL would be spared from further cuts, calling it “a lifeline for countless communities.” 




Photos courtesy of the author