Toni Morrison and Jason Reynolds Back Invest in Libraries Campaign

Toni Morrison and Jason Reynolds Back Invest in Libraries Campaign

 Authors Urge New Yorkers To Speak Up For More Library Funding In City Budget

 New York, NY – Prominent authors Toni Morrison and Jason Reynolds are calling on New Yorkers to write their elected officials in support of increased funding for the libraries in next year’s City budget. Morison and Reynolds penned letters highlighting the importance of libraries, particularly for families, children and job seekers. Libraries are facing increasing operating costs and an ongoing maintenance crisis that requires new funding to continue programs and services New Yorkers depend on.

Toni Morrison, author of Beloved, writes about how libraries have helped shape her life as a writer and the work they do for communities – from children’s story time to job seekers looking to update their skills.

“Here in New York, libraries connect people to resources that are life-changing. Lifesaving. Citizenship classes, story times for kids, job searches, and so much more,” said author, Toni Morrison, “Libraries are essential to communities, and no other place comes close. Every week within these walls, children attend story time, immigrants come to ESOL and citizenship classes, job seekers update their skills, and many more discover books that change their lives.”

Jason Reynolds, author of Ghost, stresses the importance of libraries in children’s development, offering not only stories for children to become immersed in but also classes and programs that offer services that help kids succeed.

“Across all five boroughs, every day, kids are discovering the books they’ll come to love, and much more, at their local branch. But our libraries can’t live on good intentions and enthusiasm alone. We have to work together to help keep libraries a place of discovery and growth for all kids. From homework help to ESOL classes to science and technology programs, neighborhood branches provide important, necessary services that help kids and teens succeed, and fall in love with reading and learning,” said author Jason Reynolds.

The letters are part of the “Invest in Libraries” campaign urging city leaders to increase the funding for New York’s public libraries. The campaign is a partnership between the city’s three public library systems – Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and Queens Library – and supporters of the library system across the city. The campaign calls for an additional $16 million in expense funding to more adequately fund six-day service programs and $60 million in capital funding for urgent facility maintenance.

New York’s public libraries are an essential resource for New Yorkers of all backgrounds, fostering education and civic engagement in a safe environment where everyone is treated with respect.

Across the city’s library branches on any given day, children and teens get afterschool tutoring, immigrants attend ESOL and citizenship classes, job seekers learn new skills at resume workshops, and more.

Investments in the past have paid off, with branches expanding their services with more librarians and technology specialists. The role libraries play in bringing communities together and making the city stronger is more important than ever. The cost to maintain six-day service is rising substantially, and without additional funding, it will be harder for libraries to stretch their resources to provide vital programs for the city’s most vulnerable patrons and communities.

 

Toni Morrison Letter:

Subject: Join me: Tell City leaders to fund libraries.

Dear Library Supporter,

My second job as a teenager was shelving books at the only library in Lorain, Ohio. Every shift started with a tall stack of returned books—fiction, history, drama, poetry, everything. It didn’t pay much, but it was magical. Then I got fired.

The trouble was that instead of replacing the books on the shelves, I kept reading them. A title would catch my eye, I’d crack the book open for just a quick look, and pretty soon I’d forget the stack of returns. I didn’t get far in my career as a librarian, but that experience opened my eyes and shaped my future.

That’s what libraries do. Here in New York, libraries connect people to resources that are life-changing. Lifesaving. Citizenship classes, story times for kids, job searches, and so much more.

City Hall is deciding right now on the budget that will go to libraries in the next year. Your help is urgently needed to make sure it’s clear just how many of us love and depend on our libraries.

Words have power. And specifically, your words have power. In the past, your letters have convinced City Hall to invest in libraries—the places where all of us can retreat into a world of learning and books.

Libraries are essential to communities, and no other place comes close. Every week within these walls, children attend story time, immigrants come to ESOL and citizenship classes, job seekers update their skills, and many more discover books that change their lives.

The library staff workers, who are far more dedicated than I was as a teenager, are huge repositories of knowledge. They are also the champions of their communities who make sure the library remains a safe and welcoming space for all who enter.

I wrote to our City leaders because without their funding and support, our libraries cannot afford to continue providing their many vital services and many of our older buildings cannot get the repairs they urgently need.

I can think of no better place for my tax dollars to go than investing in the libraries that make New York City an incredible place to live.

If you feel the same, don’t wait. Act. Sign your name.

Thank you for all your support and for your active citizenship.

Sincerely,

Toni Morrison

Author

Jason Reynolds Letter:

Subject: I know why kids say they hate to read

Dear Library Supporter,

When kids say they don’t like to read, they’re not actually telling the truth. What they’re really saying is that they don’t like reading boring books. They haven’t yet found the book that will make them fall in love with reading.

It’s my mission as an author of books for young adults (including the National Book Award Finalist, Ghost) to write stories that kids actually want to read. Children—especially those that have been uninterested in reading—are often drawn to books that tell them something real about their lives, that reflect the world around them, that—crucially—reflect them, no matter their background or culture or color.

And where do kids find these favorite, truth-telling books?

That’s where New York City’s public libraries come in. Across all five boroughs, every day, kids are discovering the books they’ll come to love, and much more, at their local branch. But our libraries can’t live on good intentions and enthusiasm alone. We have to work together to help keep libraries a place of discovery and growth for all kids.

Today I’m asking you to join me in calling on City leaders to invest in kids across New York City by investing in libraries. Will you add your name now? 

New Yorkers, kids and adults alike, are more eager than ever to use our libraries. Last year alone there were nearly 37 million visits to the city’slibraries. But the cost to maintain free programs and services—to say nothing of millions of free books—has risen dramatically. Support from the Mayor and City Council is vital so New York City libraries to continue to provide the essential resources so many New Yorkers love and rely on.

From homework help to ESOL classes to science and technology programs, neighborhood branches provide important, necessary services that help kids and teens succeed, and fall in love with reading and learning.

Strong support from City leaders has never been more crucial. Take 30 seconds now and send a message to Mayor de Blasio and the City Council. Tell them to keep investing in libraries—and in our kids.

When I was writing Ghost—a story of a boy on the run from his past and on his way towards a brighter future—I knew I was writing a story that had to be told. What keeps me writing is my desire to tell new and necessary stories, stories that that will inspire kids to tell their own. Join me, <Name>, in making sure all kids get the chance to visit their libraries and find the stories they’ve been missing.

No one becomes a writer without first getting lost in great books. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t had public libraries to support me. Let’s work together to ensure everyone has the same opportunity.

Thank you.

Jason Reynolds

Writer

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