American Library Association President Freedman, library users rally for sustained funding, services at National Library Week event in Queens

Contact: Larra Clark


For Immediate Release

March 26, 2003

American Library Association President Freedman, library users rally for sustained funding, services at National Library Week event in Queens, N.Y.

ALA President Maurice J. (Mitch) Freedman, New York library leaders and local library users will mark National Library Week (April 6-12) by speaking out against cuts in school, public and academic libraries on Thursday, April 10, at 11 a.m. at the Flushing Branch of Queens Public Library.

"How can we celebrate libraries and librarians without explaining that families, students and researchers are in danger of losing access to the world of resources our school, public and academic libraries offer?" Freedman, who also is the director of the Westchester (N.Y.) Library Ssytem, asked. "Librarians and our users cannot afford to be quiet about drastic cuts forcing libraries to close their doors earlier, lay off experienced library staff, eliminate periodical collections and reduce programs and services."

Cuts proposed in almost every state are deeper than those sustained even in the Great Depression, and they are affecting library services in schools, college and university campuses and communities everywhere. The Queens Public Library has been cut 20 percent - over $10 million - over the past two years. Sunday service was reduced from 14 branches to three. Brooklyn Public Library has experienced a 16 percent reduction in hours since 2002. At New York Public Library, 71 of 89 locations are now open only five days a week. Each branch has lost more than 3,000 books due to a reduced book budget. The New York City Mayor and the Governor have announced further reductions in FY '04 due to reduced revenues. Binghamton Public Library and the Westchester Library System in New York also have seen dramatic cutbacks.

Millions of Americans pass through libraries each year, but without adequate support these resources may not be there when students, families, senior citizens, professors, business people and others need them most.

In a recent study, the ALA confirmed that when the economy goes down, public library use goes up. Libraries have reported that circulation has increased significantly since March 2001, when the National Bureau of Economic Research pegged the beginning of the latest recession. Research also shows the highest achieving students attend schools with good library media centers.

"As a public librarian, I am deeply concerned that America's most important democratic institution - which guarantees information to everyone for free - is at risk and facing cuts worse than the Great Depression," Freedman said. "We must fight to save our public, school and academic libraries. Knowledge is power, and our libraries and librarians make everyone in this country more powerful."

Help President Freedman send a strong message that librarians and library advocates will not be quiet about threats to library funding, services and staff by creating your own local rally in the months ahead!

For more information on the Campaign to Save America's Libraries, please visit the
ALA's Web page.