‘Our most precious resource’: Pols say restored funding saved Brooklyn Public Library programs the from chopping block

brannan at Brooklyn Public Library press conference
Council Member Justin Brannan and Council Speaker Adrienne Adams celebrated restoring funding to the Brooklyn Public Library on Tuesday.
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

Nearly three months after the City Council struck a deal to restore millions of dollars in funding for the city’s public libraries as part of the Fiscal Year 2024 budget, Council Member Justin Brannan and New York City Council Speaker Adrienne E. Adams stopped by the Bay Ridge library to talk about what the money means for Brooklyn. 

The Brooklyn Public Library and its sister library systems were looking at significant cuts when Mayor Eric Adams proposed a citywide Program to Eliminate the Gap which required all city agencies to reduce their spending in Fiscal Year 23 by 3%, and by 4.75% each year from fiscal years 2024 through 2026.

adrienne adams and group at brooklyn public library
Adams (center) said libraries provide critical free services to the city. Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

BPL officials said the cuts would have cut $10 million in funding, causing them to eliminate all Sunday service hours, slash Saturday hours at many branches and terminate 80 open positions, as previously reported by Brooklyn Paper. 

Brannan, who serves as the finance chair for the city council, said he and Adams just could not let those predicted losses happen.

“When libraries came up [during negotiations] this is something everyone had a personal story for what it meant to them as kids, now as parents and to their families. So this was really a no-brainer, but it wasn’t easy, but we thank the Brooklyn Library for their partnership,” he said at a Sept. 19 press conference. 

Adams traveled from Manhattan down to the Bay Ridge library to celebrate the win, and emphasized the importance of multi-purpose centers that provide educational, legal and social resources to New Yorkers at zero cost. Last year, with book bans taking effect in schools nationwide, BPL launched “Books Unbanned,” which allowed students from across the country to access their collection of e-books and other materials. 

“A library is a community’s lighthouse, it’s a place that guides us to safety and stability,” Adams said. “For all that libraries provide in our communities, they should never, ever have been on the chopping block in the first place and you can rest assured that the council will continue to advocate through the year to ensure that our libraries are protected.”

For FY24, the council restored funds to BPL, the New York Public Library, and the Queens Public Library — which collectively received $36.2 million in operational funding. The library systems also received $76.5 million in capital funding to support future design and construction projects. 

adrienne adams at brooklyn public library
Adams toured the library to see some of the day’s programs. Photo courtesy of Geraldo Romo/NYC Council Media Unit

BPL received $10 million in operational funding and $29 million for capital projects. 

“As our most precious public resource, libraries offer us what we need to build the equitable future that all New Yorkers deserve,” Adams said. 

The funding allowed the library to continue 7-day service and special programs for children, seniors, and readers of all ages, Brannan said. 

“Brooklyn Public Library is deeply appreciative of Speaker Adams and Finance Chair Justin Brannan’s long-time support, without which the Library would be a very different place, said Linda Johnson, BPL’s president and CEO, in a statement. “And amid a record number of book bans, we applaud Speaker Adams and Council Member Brannan for their responsive civic leadership during the budget process and for sending a message to New Yorkers and nationwide about the power of public libraries.”