Thank you to writer and critic Malcolm Gladwell for this letter on behalf of our City's libraries.
If you'd like to help us ask our elected officials to Keep Investing In Libraries, visit speakup.queenslibrary.org.
As a kid, the highlight of my week was Wednesday evening, when my mom would drive me into town to the Public Library. The library was a magical place that gave me—a kid from a tiny town—a window on the whole world. I've never lost that feeling. And I've never felt more strongly that every child deserves that same window on the world.
Since I moved to New York City 20 years ago to become a staff writer at The New Yorker, I've relied on public libraries. They are open and welcoming to all, from writers like myself to kids learning to read, adults learning English, and immigrants gaining their citizenship.
That's why I'm asking you to join me in calling on City leaders to invest in all New Yorkers by investing in our libraries.
Even though we know how important libraries are to New York City, a recent study found that our libraries still lag behind other large cities in how many hours they are open each week. In fact, only 7 percent of NYC libraries are open seven days a week, and only 3 percent of libraries in the borough of Queens are open seven days a week. This needs to change: for some families, weekends are their only chance to visit a branch and expand their horizons.
At the same time—as demand for library services continues to climb—branches across the city are in serious disrepair and need to be renovated. It’s hard to focus on your work when water is dripping on to your notebook from the roof, or the heat isn’t working.
Libraries are a lifeline—not a luxury—for New Yorkers. Is there anywhere else that New Yorkers can get free access to education, information, and other resources in a safe environment?
Strong support from city leaders has never been more important. That's why I'm asking you to sign a letter asking Mayor de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and your City Council member to invest in our libraries.
This time is critical. The mayor and City Council are in discussions now to talk about funding for our libraries. Please take one minute to send your message now.
Your voice matters. We know that the Mayor and City Council see each letter sent to them. When the people of New York join together to say something is important, City leaders will listen.
I know I wouldn't be a writer without learning to love reading at my local library as a child. Let's make sure other New York City kids get a chance to follow their dreams just like I did.
Malcolm Gladwell, Writer
For Queens Library