Bronx libraries bracing for service cuts

Libraries across the Bronx and throughout the city may be slashing their hours, services and staff in an effort to offset an expected $23 million funding cut in the next fiscal year.

Officials estimate that the New York Public Library will eliminate 465 jobs. In addition, it is estimated that libraries will lose 20 percent of their funding under Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed budget.

"It's going to take [away] a lot from a lot of people, especially people coming home from work or [in the] after-school hours," says Arthur Washington, who visits the library branch in Parkchester once a week to check out DVDs, read the paper and use the computer.

Bronx library patrons say children will suffer the most if the proposed cuts go into effect July 1.

"They have a lot of programs for kids during the summer and weekend," says Sita Singh-Rodriguez. "If they cut it, I don't know what we're going to do."

A spokesperson for the New York Public Library says hours may be scaled back from 52 hours a week to 41.

The possible cuts come at a time when visits to the library are up 13 percent. City Council members have long fought to extend library hours, but amid the city's budget crisis, weekend service may be eliminated.

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