More than 200 full- and part-time western New York library employees may be laid off if threatened cuts go through. That could leave some libraries open a mere 16 hours per week.
The Librarians Association of Buffalo and Erie County Public Libraries, members of NYSUT, along with supporters from other unions, libraries and area residents, have held several rallies and forums about the potential effects of the proposed cuts.
The Erie County Legislature scheduled a Dec. 7 vote on the issue.
"It's pretty radical. The overall budget reduction is 20 percent to 25 percent," said Timothy Galvin, president of the Librarians Association of BECPL.
"Libraries are more than bricks and mortar," said NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi. "They are an integral part of a child's learning and an essential component of the economic and cultural vitality of a community."
The state would allow a one-year waiver for not meeting operating requirements, but Galvin said, "The real problem comes after that. Without a plan in place for funding, there's a good chance those branches would be closed."
Seventeen branches were shut down in 2005 and none have reopened, he said.