The city's library system, which quietly plays a critical role in neighborhoods around the city for kids, parents, senior citizens, job-seekers and others, was hoping to get good news this season, what with a new mayor and a new city budget coming.
But this week the news has not been good. After a Daily News story yesterday revealed questionable spending in the Queens system (Brooklyn's libraries operate separately, and the New York Public Library serves Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island), Comptroller Scott Stringer announced on Wednesday that he'll audit all three networks.
“My auditors will assess whether the spending practices of our library systems follow applicable rules and prudent business practices,” Stringer said in a statement. “We want our libraries to maximize the value of the public funds they receive while finding ways that they can be more efficient and effective from top to bottom.”
The focus of the audits will include “scrutiny of spending practices, executive pay and compensation” as well as “funding of capital improvements, the use of city tax levy funds as well as the oversight role of the library systems’ individual boards of trustees,” according to Stringer's office.
On Wednesday, new Council libraries committee chairman Jimmy van Barmier called for a hearing on the Queens library issues, and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said she'd do her own digging to see if the Queens system's trustees had properly monitored spending.
This post is part of an ongoing project looking at the potential for New York's libraries to fill a critical gap in our civic infrastructure, as well as the challenges and difficult choices the library systems face. It is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation. Read the full project here.