Friday, February 11, 2011

Newark Mayor Faces a Somber Audience at Library Board Meeting

Why such gloom in the room during library meeting?   (Newark Star-Ledger, 2/11/2011)

Excerpt:   Mayor Cory Booker came, as promised, to the Newark Public Library board meeting Wednesday. The audience included some library employees, but was mostly community people who had come to protest a proposed $2.5 million library budget cut.

The mayor delivered what sounded like good news: no new library cuts. He is working with the city council to make that happen. Yesterday, council members told me there is solid support for no more cuts in library funding.

Newark is the premier library of New Jersey and should be treated as such, Booker said at the board meeting, calling for new private fundraising. He said the first event would be next month.
I expected applause, if not a hallelujah or two. The room -- perhaps 60 or 70 people -- had just heard board vice president Timothy J. Crist say that if the cut comes, the Branch Brook, Clinton and Roseville branches would close, Saturday and evening hours would be gone, and the system would shut down for the month of August. A summer closing should mean less of an impact on schoolkids, rather than 30 furlough days during the school year. Libraries give kids something that competes with the streets, so a city that had to lay off cops has a chance of getting ahead of its crime problem.

Yet the response to the mayor saying all of that might be avoided was somber, if not a little hostile. People demanded to ask questions. The mayor said he had only 10 minutes. There was a 5-minute debate on whether 10 minutes was enough

Related articles:
Public libraries and the long overdue end of the quiet era.  (9/2/2010)
24-hour vigil (video).  (9/1/2010)
Library adjusts to budget cuts.  (7/5/2010)

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