No More Sunday Services at Brooklyn Public Library Implies Minimal Access for Orthodox Jewish Patrons

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"Effective Immidiately," screenshot taken 1/04/2009 from BPL's website

Brooklyn Public Library intends to close all branches in Borough Park, Kensington, Midwood and other locations on Sundays, effective January 4, 2009. Currently, these libraries are open to the public on Sundays between the hours of 1:00 and 5:00PM. These sites will, however, continue to operate Monday through Saturday.

Dionne Mack Harvin, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Public Library, attributes the Sunday closures to “actual and proposed reductions in both City and State funding in Fiscal Year 2009 and Fiscal Year 2010.” She estimates that the elimination of Sunday service will reduce the Library’s annual expenses by $800,000.*

The suspention of library services on Sundays (if only temporarily) have serious implications for practicing Jewish communities in Brooklyn as Shabbat or Shabbos, the weekly Sabbath or day of rest in Judaism, is observed from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday night. In his response to Ms. Harvin, Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) stated, “I question the Brooklyn Public Library’s judgment in closing the library on Sundays in what are primarily Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods.” Hikind added that the library should close on Saturdays instead of Sundays to “ensure equal library access for all New Yorkers.”

Hikind urges the community to contact Mr. Steven Schechter, Director of Government Relations for the Brooklyn Public Library at 718-230-2091 to voice additional opposition to the planned closures.

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