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Chicago Public Libraries Seek Support to Block Budget Cuts

By Samantha Abernethy in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 19, 2011 10:00PM


Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposed 2012 budget includes significant cuts for the Chicago Public Library system, and a group has started a letter-writing campaign to try to stop it. Save Chicago's Public Libraries and Librarian Jobs is encouraging their supporters to contact aldermen and the mayor's office. As of publication, the Facebook page had 687 fans:

A reduction in staff of this magnitude would have an incredibly negative impact on the quantity and quality of services that the library is able to offer. Patrons rely on the library everyday to meet a wide variety of their needs.
As it stands, the budget would reduce hours of operation for all Chicago's libraries and lay-off 363 library employees. Emanuel has defended the decision, saying he's still committed to keeping libraries going. The Sun-Times writes:
“Do I expect controversy? Sure. But I also know that [New York] Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg, who I have a lot of respect for — they closed libraries. You have to look at the context….The budget I will present will make the tough choices, and it will be honest with the people of Chicago about those tough choices to put our fiscal house in order.”
Actually, even though the New York City laid off 299 library employees in 2010, the New York Public Library system was actually able to prevent Bloomberg from making massive cuts to their budgets back in June, thanks in part to a successful campaign similar to what Save Our Libraries is doing now. In December 2010 CPL narrowly skirted budget cuts, too.