New York's Libraries Celebrate National Library Week

Both the Best and Worst of Times for Libraries

ALBANY, NY (04/14/2008)(readMedia)-- ALBANY, N.Y. -- The New York Library Association (NYLA) today announced the kick-off of National Library Week, April 13-19, with several library awareness activities including a public service announcement and local library events.

This year’s National Library Week theme is “Join the circle of knowledge at your library.” All types of libraries participate in the celebration including school, public, college and special libraries.

This year’s National Library Week honorary chair is Julie Andrews, known for her roles in such classic movies as “The Sound of Music” and “Mary Poppins.” In her role as chair, Andrews has produced a series of television and radio Public Service Announcements for National Library Week, which are available at

“As author Charles Dickens wrote in A Tale of Two Cities, this is both the best of times and the worst of times, at least for libraries as we celebrate National Library Week and the increase in library use, while at the same time state and local governments are cutting funding for libraries”, said Michael J. Borges, Executive Director of the New York Library Association.

Both in the recently adopted State Budget and in the NYC budget proposed by Mayor Bloomberg, funding for libraries is on the chopping block. State aid to libraries was cut by $2 million and Mayor Bloomberg is proposing a 5% to 8% reduction in funding for city libraries.

This is despite continued increases in visits to libraries growing from 101 million in 2000 to 109 million in 2006. and despite research that show a correlation between tough economic times and increased library use. Studies commissioned by the American Library Association in the past have demonstrated a clear connection between an economic decline and an increase in public library use. One five-year study released in April of 2002, saw a match between circulation increases at 25 of the nation’s largest public libraries and time periods labeled “recessions” by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Borges continued: “When times are tough, people tend to rely more on their libraries for free materials and services they might otherwise pay for and that’s why library funding is so important this year. That advocacy message will be something we continue to talk about, not only during National Library Week, but also throughout the year. While New Yorkers support libraries in overwhelming numbers, we need to ensure that our State and local leaders share that support.”

Borges went on to say that a January Zogby poll showed that a majority of New Yorkers support continued increases in state aid for libraries despite uncertain economic times. “In fact, 82 percent of New Yorkers support more state funding for libraries to purchase new and accurate reading and research materials,” he said.