Perhaps you don’t spend too much time thinking about libraries as spaces that jump start early literacy, inspire art, or provide free resources to those that can’t afford their own personal (private) everything. Maybe you don’t even know where your local branch library is, because you have no immediate “need” for it. Oh but how much do you love that cutesy iphone cover that looks just like those old catalog cards?! Like so many things, what you are not supporting in your local community is marketable and wearable just the same. I don’t buy it.
Jessamyn West says more on this topic, with some good points to boot:
[Because] The word library is evocative of a whole bunch of things, from now stretching deep into the past. It has gravitas and comes with a bunch of associations that you can sort of get for free by linking your thing to libraries. Except libraries aren’t free. And the work that goes into keeping them running (which is a lot more than keeping a bookshelf stocked) is complicated, sometimes thankless and under attack from people who think somehow that libraries are not fashionable enough, not hip or current enough, that our day has passed. So please feel free to quit sending me this iphone case, as much as I love it, and think about why New York loves this sort of thing and is trying to sell off their library real estate in New York City and gut the stacks.
(Via Carolyn McIntyre of Citizens Defending Libraries & the associated petition Save New York City Libraries From Bloomberg Developer Destruction)
Mayor Bloomberg refuses to adequately fund our public libraries unless they sell off assets including crown jewels of the system, a plan that is wrong-headed and counterproductive.
We are in a period of steadily increasing use of libraries by all sectors of New York’s population, attendance is up 40% and circulations are up 59%, while the amount required to properly fund libraries is a pittance compared to other city expenditures.
Public libraries enrich their communities and are an important part of the tax base and a stable economy, providing jobs, community space and serving as a buffer against economic downturn. They provide a safe haven for seniors during the day, teens after school, for parents with young children, for job seekers needing computers, for the growing number of freelance professionals, and for those needing literacy and technical skills.
Bloomberg’s plan would eliminate irreplaceable and historic crown jewels, such as the research stacks underneath the main 42nd Street library, and demolish Brooklyn Heights Art Deco style building, housing 62,000 square feet of library space replacing it with only 15,000 square feet of space in a developer’s high rise. The removal of the Brooklyn Business Library from Brooklyn’s central business district in downtown Brooklyn, the hub of commerce, transportation, and next to universities is a travesty. These are just two examples of a scheme to shrink New York’s public library system, eliminating resources that communities depend on.
We need to immediately halt real estate deals that involve selling any more branches to private developers until the libraries have been properly funded and until the needs of the public’s library system are the first priority.
Libraries should not be hostages for development. The city should cease the practices of bribing the public into approving bigger and denser development and pressuring communities into accepting libraries housed in smaller spaces with fewer services.
Developer-driven partnerships that put developers in the driver’s seat and render competitive bids meaningless are bad public policy that must be avoided. The practice of using developers who specialize in insider deals, who treat the communities poorly and have a record of failing to deliver promised benefit violates the public trust.
There should be no elimination or sale of irreplaceable assets such as the crown jewel research stacks under the 42nd Street main library or elimination of the Business and Career Center Library on the border of Brooklyn Heights and downtown Brooklyn.
There should be no premature library closings such as Donnell library, closed in 2008 and still awaiting a replacement. Any library closing should have a binding contract for its prompt replacement with solid assurances, including full up-front payments and financing in place.
There should be no mass sell-offs of libraries. Sales of library properties, if any, should be sequenced so that multiple libraries are not closed at the same time and only when it is in the best interest of the public’s library system.
“The knowledge of different literature frees one from the tyranny of a few”
-Jose Marti Plaque on 41St Library Walk
New York’s libraries, the lifeblood of a democracy, have contributed to making our city economically vital and a cultural powerhouse. We must not sacrifice it to shortsighted planning and the interests of powerful developers. We demand protection for public libraries, the city’s trusted place to learn, grow, be inspired, and connect with great minds.
• New York Times: Critic’s Notebook- In Renderings for a Library Landmark, Stacks of Questions, by Michael Kimmelman, January 29, 2013.
• Wall Street Journal: Undertaking Its Destruction, by Ada Louise Huxtable, December 3, 2012.
• Noticing New York: New City-Wide Policy Makes Generation Of Real Estate Deals The Library System’s Primary Purpose, by Michael D. D. White, January 31, 2013.
• Center For An Urban Future: Report – Branches of Opportunity, by David Giles, January 2013
If you have not yet, please sign a petition to Stephen Levin, City Council Member, Mayor Michael R Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, NYC Comptroller John C. Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Trustees of New York Public Library, Trustees of Brooklyn Public Library, and Trustees of Queens Public Library, which says:
“We demand that Mayor Bloomberg stop defunding New York libraries at a time of increasing public use, population growth and increased city wealth. Shrinking our library system to create real estate deals for the wealthy at a time of cutbacks in education and escalating disparities in opportunity is not only unjust, it is a shortsighted plan that will ultimately hurt New York City’s economy and competitiveness.”
Simply click here to add your name:
Come out, come out, wherever you are and show some love Tuesday, May 28, 2013!
(Via Urban Librarians Unite)
Citywide Day of Rallies In Support of NYC’s Public Libraries
Rallies in Across the City Call to Restore Proposed Budget Cuts
New Yorkers love their libraries and they show it but the current NYC
budget proposed cuts of more than $106 million threaten to shut down
community libraries across New York City. In response to this, a
citywide day of action will take place on Tuesday May 28th. NYC’s
three public library systems will participate along with the Queens
Library Guild Local 1321 and Urban Librarians Unite. There will be
library love going on across New York City.
3:00 – 4:00PM
Kingsbridge Library, 291 West 231st Street, Bronx, NY
Wrap yourself up in library love. The activists in the Bronx will be
hugging the library with the help of local students and community
groups. These crafty activists have been knitting furiously in
protest of the cuts. They expect lots of pint-sized protesters as
their youngest supporters, the storytime set, will be out in force.
Bushwick Branch, 340 Bushwick Ave. at Seigel St, Brooklyn, NY
Council Member Diana Reyna will attend
Park Slope Branch, 431 Sixth Ave. at Ninth St., Brooklyn
Council Member Brad Lander will attend
Hug the Libraries! Two Brooklyn Libraries will be literally embraced
by their communities. The Bushwick Branch and the Park Slope Branch
will be surrounded by crowds clasping hands and embracing the library
3 to 4 PM
Jefferson Market Library, 425 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY
Manhattanites are hoping the city will “cut it out” with slashing
library budgets. Children of all ages will attend a craft event,
featuring a special paper cut-out celebrating the Library, which will
be displayed for all New Yorkers who love their libraries, and to make
a statement about their importance.
11:00 – 1:00PM
Central Library, 89-11 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica
Council Member Leroy Comrie expected to attend
The Queens Library Guild, Local 1321 Rally at the Queens Central
Library will be a vocal celebration of love for the library. Staff and
customers will take it in turn to come forward and speak up about
their personal love for the library.
The Bloomberg Administration’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposes slashing funding to libraries citywide by $106.7 million. Read more here: Albor Ruiz – New York City’s public libraries need their patrons to stand up against mayoral budget cuts (Daily News).
And while you are at it PLEASE sign a petition to let your city council member know that you love your library.
Ouch. Brooklyn Public Library could be facing a 36% cut to its City funding on June 30, 2013, representing nearly a 1/3 reduction to the current budget. If the Library closes its doors, we will lose access to FREE:
- computers and WiFi service;
- job search assistance;
- story time activities;
- technical skill programs;
- cultural events.
[REPOST] Join Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) on Saturday, May 11 for Bike the Branches—a one-day bike ride to benefit the Library. Experience the borough and BPL like never before, while connecting with family, friends and fellow Brooklynites as you bike our network of 60 neighborhood libraries that serve each community.
Choose your own route and set your own pace as you visit as many of our branches as you want, or follow one of our suggested routes to take a tour of Brooklyn’s storied waterfront, literary history, culinary highlights or architectural gems. Sign up to ride as an individual or with friends and co-workers, and ask your friends and family to sponsor your ride for BPL.
Get your “passport” stamped at as many branches as you can visit between 10am and 5pm. Throughout the day, stop in at select branches to recharge and enjoy entertainment and fun activities, and top off the day at Central Library’s Finish Line Celebration from 5-7pm—you won’t want to miss it!
Register today to Bike the Branches and support Brooklyn Public Library with a rewarding day of wellness, literacy and community.