Closed for businessTwo branch libraries shut as part of budget cuts

The sign on the door of the Branch Library No. 2 on Avenue C near 51st Street announced that it would close as of March 13.
The closing of the uptown branch, along with its downtown counterpart on West Fourth, are the latest in a series of moves to trim the municipal budget in order to close a $30 million spending gap.


“We had to give the landlord 30 days notice.” – Joseph Ryan

Employees at both facilities – including two librarians – will be relocated to the Main Library at 697 Avenue C, near 31st Street, said Dr. Joseph Ryan, spokesperson for the city.
“The rent at the uptown branch is $850 a month,” he said. “We had to give the landlord 30 days notice.”
Computers that are routinely used by patrons will most likely be brought to the 56th Street Senior Center near Avenue B, Ryan said.
The public access computers at the Fourth Street Branch will likely remain where they are, since most of the city-owned building there is used as a senior center.
These closings are part of a $10.5 million package of initiatives introduced by Mayor Mark Smith in December that calls for $5.7 million in expenditure cuts and about $4.8 million in additional revenues.

Layoff plan goes to the state

In late February, the city issued layoff notices to all of the city’s employees as part of a legal requirement to put city workers on notice that they could be at risk for layoffs in the near future.
The notice, issued to 741 municipal employees, marks the second time in two years that workers faced layoffs. In 2007, the city laid off 71 non-uniformed workers. But for the first time, police and fire department employees face layoffs, too.
To avoid layoffs, Smith said he has asked labor unions to put off raises, take a reduction in health care and even accept furloughs.
Part of the process involves a review by the state to determine possible bumping rights, who must be laid off first, and what the reasoning is behind each potential cut as well as steps taken by the city to avoid layoffs where possible.
Although layoffs could begin as early as May 1 if approved by the state, the city has until June 30 to implement the plan.
“This is a standard operating procedure,” Ryan said. “This is the third time since I have been a city employee that it’s been done.”
Steve Gallo, chief of staff for Mayor Mark Smith, said the city has sent its layoff plan to the state, and is waiting for its approval.
He said by law, the city must give a general notice to all employees that a layoff plan has been developed.
“After we get the state’s approval, then we give specific notice to those employees that are being laid off,” Gallo said. “The state will tell us how many people.”

Library art could find a home in the Bayonne Museum

In another library matter, Ryan also said that a mural painted in 1937 for the Bayonne Library could possibly find a home in the new Bayonne Community Museum when it opens later this year.
The 8-by-3-foot three-panel oil paint mural painted by Maurice Abramson, called “The American Dream,” was donated to the library in 1937 as part of a display of local artists.
The library displayed the work until a 1959 fire, after which the mural was placed in storage.
Library policy, Ryan said, did not allow permanent exhibits.
“The artist was my art teacher when I was in school,” Ryan said. “The library board made a decision to limit permanent framed displays. But it is possible the work will be displayed on a temporary basis. We have several venues including the museum when it opens.”
Ryan said this was a work done as part of the WPA artists’ series, and has a historical significance.
“It many ways, the current economic situation has much in common with that era,” he said.

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