The Queens Library Can’t Afford to Buy Any New Books

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01/24/2011 2:47 PM |

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The Queens Library—the highest-circulating public library in America—has stopped buying new books, WNYC reports.

This comes after two years of cuts to staff and operating hours necessitated by city budget cuts; Library CEO Tom Galante tells WNYC that, in essence, he’s had to choose between keeping up with new acquisitions and maintaining current levels of access and service.

Galante emphasizes that they’ll continue with their responsive community programs: “providing English lessons, aiding job seekers and providing Internet access.” And indeed, the The Queens Library is well-regarded in library circles for its service to a diverse population, especially their youth-service programs, which offer afterschool programs, and classes, mentoring, open-mic nights, and other proactive engagement with kids and teens—a level of engagement which the library community has sought to emulate.

But how engaged can a library be if it has to rely on donations to keep its stock current? If you’ve ever been informed that there are “33 previous Hold orders” on the new Franzen or Larsson or whomever, you see the problem—to meet demand, and thus have any shot at meaningfully retaining patrons, libraries need to keep up with, you know, the world of literature.

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