Yesterday, we reported on the steady stream of unscheduled closings hitting branch libraries around the city, and suggested that the city might be choosing style over substance in library scheduling. This morning, the Daily News makes the case that the situation with the library system is symptomatic of a larger refusal to face the reality of the city's budget situation:
The city trimmed the library budget by $8 million (20 percent), and the state cut its public-library subsidy another 20 percent, a $2 million decrease. These cuts have eliminated 115 jobs.
These changes may surprise some, who may have assumed that the outcry over branch-closing plans somehow "saved" the system. But the library is the canary in the coal mine of a troubled economy - and of our denial about the true impact of the budget crisis.
The editorial goes on to recall that the Mayor originally wanted to "right-size" the system and rethink some library functions, and concludes that something needs to be done: "The libraries ... should be a harbinger of changes the city as a whole needs to take to reflect 21st-century realities."
Meanwhile, over at City Paper, Isaiah Thompson weighs in on the library's questionable compromise of promising five-day a week service when it couldn't really provide it:
Mayor Nutter ought to either restore the funding he took away, or be responsible enough to close some branches, even one branch, if he intends not to pay enough for the current system to work properly.
Or maybe there's another solution, I don't know: I'm not the mayor.
But Nutter is, and he'd better do something.
We would add that the city might want to wait and see how much of this problem is fixed by the recent reassignment of several security guards before taking permanent action. But experts have suggested the unscheduled closings will persist, so before long, permanent action may be in order.