For the first time since Fiscal Year 2008, Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council approved a city budget in which New York City's three public library systems did not lose any funding. The decision to fully restore the libraries’ budgets—after the mayor initially proposed a $106 million reduction in funding—was influenced by our groundbreaking study about New York’s three public library systems. Published in January 2013, our Branches of Opportunity report documented that the city’s public libraries are serving more people in more ways than ever before and have become an increasingly pivotal piece of the city’s human capital system. The report showed that the city’s three public library systems—Brooklyn, Queens and New York—have experienced a 40 percent spike in the number of people attending educational programs and a 59 percent increase in circulation over the past decade.
Covered in the New York Times and a number of other publications, the report shined a spotlight on the important role of the city’s branch libraries. Following the release of the report, the Center advocated for better city support of the libraries, holding multiple briefings with city officials as well as hosting a high-profile symposium on the growing importance of New York’s public libraries. Our report was also cited numerous times by people testifying before the City Council’s budget hearings about New York’s public libraries, and the Center’s Jonathan Bowles co-authored an op-ed with Julie Sandorf of the Charles H. Revson Foundation urging the mayor and City Council to fully restore the libraries’ budgets.