Most NYC libraries would only open five days a week under mayor’s budget cuts, officials say

March 13, 2024

A rally of library supporters at City Hall on March 12. Photo courtesy of NYPL

Most New York City public libraries would only be able to open five days a week if the latest budget proposed by Mayor Eric Adams is approved, library officials warned this week. The presidents of the city’s three public library systems testified at a City Council budget hearing on Tuesday on the detrimental effects the proposed $58.3 million in budget cuts could have on library service. If the mayor’s budget for the next fiscal year is approved, most city libraries will cut hours to just five days a week, marking the first time in nearly a decade that libraries will not be open six days at every branch.

The budget impacts would ensure the continued elimination of seven-day service across the five boroughs, with most branches remaining closed on Sundays. Seven-day service was discarded following a mid-year budget cut in November.

Additionally, branches currently undergoing renovations would have their reopening delayed indefinitely. Many of these branches are located in historically marginalized communities. A lack of funding means the library system can’t afford to staff these branches.

Spending on library materials, programming, maintenance, and repairs would be further reduced, according to the libraries. Most recent cuts have resulted in 72,000 fewer books and items on shelves at the New York Public Library (NYPL) and 40,000 fewer at the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), as Hellgate reported.

“It is astounding that we are in a situation where the greatest city in the world is facing the possibility of losing universal six-day public library service,” Queens Public Library (QPL) President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott said. 

“The potential reduction of $58.3 million in City funding is a devastating blow to our already strained staffing and resources and will force us to deepen the reductions we recently made as a result of the November cuts. Libraries are a catalyst for our city’s dreams, and we are hopeful that we can see our budgets fully restored and keep those dreams alive.”

The specific impacts for each library system can be found below:


  • More than half of BPL branches are dropping to five-day-a-week service 
  • Reduced hours 
  • The potential delay of three locations that are set to reopen in FY25 following renovations


  • Nearly 60% of NYPL branches will drop to five-day service. 
  • The delayed reopening of at least five recently renovated branches and their teen centers. 


  • The end of Saturday service at all locations except the Central and Flushing libraries
  • The delayed reopenings of three renovated branches, the Bay Terrace, Broadway, and Hillcrest libraries, all of which are close to complete and scheduled to open in the spring.

“The city’s public libraries are facing the highest proposed budget cuts in over a decade, a potentially devastating loss of funding that will force most branches to limit service to just five days a week,” NYPL President Anthony W. Marx said.

“This is on top of the loss of Sunday service enacted in November, and just one of the painful measures we must take to absorb these cuts. Libraries are less than half of one percent of the total budget, but their value in providing free services, programs, and access to knowledge is unmatched. We are calling for full restoration of our funding so we can continue partnering with the City to best serve New Yorkers.”

In November, Adams announced a sweeping set of budget cuts for city agencies due to the financial strains he blamed on the current migrant crisis. The cuts targeted the city’s library systems, the Parks Department, the Department of Sanitation, and more.

However, after acknowledging that tax revenues were higher than expected, Adams reversed many of the larger budget cuts. No changes were made to the libraries’ budget.

The City Council recently projected that the city would receive $3.3 billion more in tax revenue than Adams previously expected, leading council members to again urge the city to reverse the cuts to the libraries, according to the Daily News.

New Yorkers are encouraged to send a letter in support of NYC’s libraries to their elected officials through the BPL, NYPL, and QPL’s campaign page here.


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