Why Is New York City Planning to Sell and Shrink Its Libraries?

Defend our libraries, don't defund them. . . . . fund 'em, don't plunder 'em

Mayor Bloomberg defunded 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 wealthy real estate developers at a time of cutbacks in education and escalating disparities in opportunity. It’s an unjust and shortsighted plan that will ultimately hurt New York City’s economy and competitiveness.

It should NOT be adopted by those we have now elected to pursue better policies.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Citizens Defending Libraries Main Page

Defend our libraries, don't defund them. . . . .  fund 'em, don't plunder 'em 

SIGN OUR PETITION TO SUPPORT LIBRARIES:  Sign our new updated petition here:
Mayor de Blasio: Rescue Our Libraries from Developer Destruction
You can also stay informed by following us on Twitter (@DefendLibraries) and by liking our Citizens Defending Libraries Facebook page. And we post videos on our Citizens Defending Libraries YouTube Channel.
When We Started and Why

Citizens Defending Libraries was founded in February of 2013 in response to then breaking headlines about how, across the city, our public libraries were proposed to be sold and shrunk at great public loss, with libraries being intentionally underfunded, their books and librarians eliminated.  Citizens Defending Libraries was first to point out how the the real estate industry's interest in turning libraries into real estate deals was driving such sales and the reduction of funding and library resources.


Citizens Defending Libraries has had a number of significant successes fending off and preventing library sale and shrinkages and there has been some progress towards restoration of the funding of libraries to a proper pre-library-sales plan level of proper funding.  These successes include: 
    •    The sale of Mid-Manhattan, the most used circulating library in Manhattan, was prevented with the help of two lawsuits in which Citizens Defending Libraries was first in the list of named plaintiffs.  That sale was prevented as Citizens Defending Libraries joined with others to successfully derail the New York Public Library’s ill-conceived consolidating shrinkage of major Manhattan libraries known as the Central Library Plan.  Citizens Defending Libraries accurately predicted this sell-off and shrinkage of libraries was likely to cost over $500 million, far more than the $300 advertised by the NYPL as it promoted its real estate deals.  Unfortunately, work remains to be done as aspects of the Central Library Plan still ominously survive:
    •        The NYPL still plans to sell and close the largest science library in New York City, SIBL, the Science Industry and Business Library, eliminating its collection of science books just when they are needed most,
    •        Millions of additional books are still missing from and need to be brought back to the 42nd Street Central Reference Library at Fifth Avenue (yes that's the building with the lions, Patience and Fortitude).
    •        The NYPL still plans to subject the Mid-Manhattan Library to a consolidating shrinkage with a concomitantly vast reduction in available books.
    •    The sale and closing of another beloved central destination in Manhattan, the 5-story Donnell Library is now widely understood to have been a mistake. Library administration officials now apologize acknowledging it was a significant mistake, but that is only so long as we keep reminding the public what was lost and how the library was sold for a pittance, while real estate industry insiders like Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner benefitted from this first “shrink-and-sink” deal by replacing it with luxury tower, a tiny underground and largely bookless library in its base.
    •    Working with others in the community, we have so far prevented the sale the Pacific Branch Library, the first Carnegie in Brooklyn, next to Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards megadevelopment (now aka “Pacific Park”), which in 2013 the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) announced was one of its two highest priorities to sell as it launched a program of real estate deal sell-offs.
    •    For almost four years, from 2013 to 2017, we delayed and fended off the sale and destruction of Brooklyn’s second biggest library, the central destination Brooklyn Heights Library, which included the central Business Career and Education Library and a now shuttered Federal Depository Library making federal documents, records, and history available to the public.  This was another “shrink-and-sink” sale of property, also next to (and involving) Forest City Ratner property was the BPL’s other first announced highest priority.  Again, a luxury tower will stand where an important central destination library once stood.  Garnering over 2,000 testimonies from the community we surprised everybody by causing Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams to come out against the project after it was launched.  It was also reportedly the subject of a “play-to-play” investigation with respect to the development team that was an inferior bidder channeling funds to Mayor de Blasio.  That investigation appears to have been dropped immediately after Donald Trump stunned the public by firing U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
    •    We alerted the public and Red Hook community about “Spaceworks,” a real estate company formed Mayor Bloomberg’s administration to shrink libraries viewing library space as being under utilized we helped to prevent the already woefully small 7,500 square foot Red Hook library from being shrunk down to just 5,500 square feet.  Brooklyn Community Board 6 helped kill the shrinkage.  (While we also worked to get the word out to the Williamsburg community about a proposed shrinkage there with Spaceworks being handed the second floor of the Williamsburg Library, we were not able to act fast enough and Councilman Steve Levin and Brooklyn Community Board 1 were supporting the scheme.)
     •    We alerted the Sunset Park community about long-secret plans to sell the Sunset Park Library and redevelop it into a mixed used project.  We believe that because we were on the scene to shine this spotlight, and also because the BPL wanted to overcome our opposition to the Brooklyn Heights Library sale, Sunset park is the first time the BPL actually proposed to enlarge one of the the libraries it was targeting for sale.  That will be a sort of victory if there is no subsequent bait-and-switch.  Unfortunately, it is not a perfect victory.  Our sense is that for good and valid reasons the informed Sunset Park community was still largely, perhaps 90%, opposed to the library replacement plan they were not involved in developing and from which they will suffer while the library is closed for many years before it is replaced.  Unfortunately, those who were in place to fight for the Sunset Park community’s interests did not ultimately defend them.  That includes Brooklyn Community Board 7 and City Councilman Carlos Menchaca.
     •    Citizens Defending Libraries was also on the scene to shine a spotlight and help put things quickly in perspective for the Inwood Community when the NYPL announced it wanted to turn the Inwood Library into a real estate deal, likely also as a part of an effort to help push through a upzoning of the area.
     •    Citizens Defending Libraries similarly sounded the alarm before word was out publicly about a proposal for a consolidating shrinkage of the Brower Park Library with the Prospect Heights Children’s Museum (reversing a previous expansion).
     •    Citizens Defending Libraries has been engaged in an education and publicity campaign.  It included:
     •        Forums, including a mayor forum during the 2013 election with most of the candidates endorsing our proposals that libraries be properly funded, not sold and shrunk.  Mayor de Blasio, whose position we changed during the campaign, joined with us in July to proclaim that our libraries should not be sold saying: “It's public land and public facilities and public value under threat. . . and once again we see, lurking right behind the curtain, real estate developers who are very anxious to get their hands on these valuable properties.”  Unfortunately, by October he was taking money from developers behind the curtain.
        •    As a result of our activism there have been hearings about the sale and shrinkage of libraries starting with a very important June 27, 2013 New York State Assembly hearing that embarrassed city library administration officials. 
       •    A letter of support signed by multiple community organizations, electeds and candidates running for office.
        •   In May of 2016 Citizens Dfending Libraries was honored to be a recipient of the Historic Districts Council's Grassroots Preservation Award.
Despite our battles won, our NYC libraries are still besieged by a major war and the threat of such plans.

What libraries are affected?
Library officials said early on that they wanted to sell the most valuable NYC libraries first.  And indeed, that is exactly what the NYPL did when its first move was to sell the central destination Donnell Library, a library that was documented to be on most valuable block in Manhattan at the time.  Similarly, the concurrently launched Central Library Plan with its proposed sale of the Mid-Manhattan Library focused on the choicest real estate.  The BPL did the same thing prioritizing two prime site libraries adjacent to Forest City Ratner property for probable luxury towers, the Brooklyn Heights Library and the Pacific Branch library.  Unfortunately, the libraries that are most valuable to real estate developers are also the most valuable to the public for very similar reasons, including central accessible locations.

The most valuable libraries may be at the top of this list, but all libraries in the New York City system are currently under siege.  All libraries are under siege because of the deliberate, unprecedented and absolutely unnecessary underfunding of NYC libraries that is being presented as an excuse to sell libraries affects all libraries in all our city's boroughs.

All libraries in the New York City system should also be considered currently under siege because each and every library sale becomes precedent and a model for the next.  The shrink-and-sink sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library replicates the shrink-and-sink Donnell Library (in fact it was conceived at the same time with the same people in the background).  Moreover, BPL president Linda Johnson told the City Council when it was approving the shrink-and-sink Brooklyn Heights Library sale that it would be a model for future library deals by all three city library systems, the BPL, which she heads, the NYPL and the Queens Library.  Johnson has referred to herself as head of the Brooklyn Library system as having "over 1,000,000 square feet of real estate" at her disposal.

While Library officials are attracted to seizing for conversion the most valuable libraries first, they are also usually tactically coy about their plans. At this point they openly acknowledge going after only a few libraries at a time.  They go after the very valuable ones they want and they also go after the libraries where they believe they have ascertained that they can overcome community opposition and expect that they can, at the same time, perhaps achieve another objective that attracts them, like laying the groundwork for an upzoning in Inwood or establish and entrench a principle of reduction as with Spaceworks in Red Hook and Williamsburg.

For more details about affected libraries click here:  What Libraries Are Affected By City Strategy Of Defunding, Shrinking, Selling Off Libraries?

Are The Libraries Being Shrunk, Pushed Underground, Books and Librarians Eliminated Because the World Is "Going Digital"?

Although the people promoting library sales and elimination of books would like to use as an excuse that the world is going digital, that is not the case.  New York City libraries are more used than ever.  Although use was up 40% programmatically, most of the recent increased use is in terms of circulation, 59%, and almost all of that circulation is physical books.  That is despite an effort by NYC library administration officials to steer people into the use of digital books (which, maybe surprisingly, are actually more expensive for the libraries) and away from what they derisively refer to as "old-fashioned analogue books."

While digital books sometimes have some advantages the general population tends to prefer physical books.  Further, there are advantages with physical books related to the way people learn and think and there are problems and concerns about digital books that need to be considered.  See:  Physical Books vs. Digital Books.

At the same time, libraries do need to address digital needs and provide access to the internet; they need to help bridge the so-called "digital divide" between those who have ready access to computers and the internet and those who don't.  For that reason libraries should actually be growing to address these expanded needs rather than shrinking.  In this regard it is, indefensible and inexplicable that two top-notch libraries with some of the most advanced and robust support of computer and internet libraries, SIBL the 34th Street Science, Industry and Business Library and the downtown Brooklyn Heights Library with its Business, Career and Education Library, were both targeted for simultaneous elimination.

Are Libraries Just Too Expensive a Luxury to Pay For?

In the overall scheme of things, New York City libraries cost virtually nothing.  When it comes to libraries, no matter how you slice and dice it, we are dealing with total funding figures that come to fractions of a percentage point, this despite the fact that, economically, libraries more than pay for themselves, and: “More people visited public libraries in New York than every major sports team and every major cultural institution combined.”

Notwithstanding, subsidies to sports venues like the Ratner/Prokhorov “Barclays” arena dwarf what we spend on libraries. In 8 years when we spent at least $620 million on just three sports arenas, (the Ratner/Prokhorov "Barclays" included) that amount was 1.37 times the amount spent on libraries serving seven times as many users.

The underfunding of libraries is notwithstanding that libraries are one of the public's top priorities. The city’s 59 community boards ranked library services as their“third highest budget concern” and“Brooklyn’s community boards ranked libraries their top priority.”  In 2013 when the NYC Comptroller polled the public about its priorities for "The People's Budget" libraries were again one of the very top priorities.

Valuable in so many ways in their own right, libraries must also be considered an essential adjunct to schools and ensuring proper education and literacy of the population.  One thing that a recurring trope in science fiction scripts gets right is that there is a high correspondence, if not quite one-to-one correlation, between the demise of great libraries and the collapse of once great civilizations.

NYC Libraries Are Being Sold For Huge Losses And For Minuscule Fractions of Their Value

People ask whether the public is at least getting good deals or "value" when we sell our libraries.  We absolutely are not.  We are selling our libraries for far less than their worth and far less than we have invested in them.  The losses are actually profoundly embarrassing notwithstanding the proclivity of library officials to deceptively characterize proceeds from sales as "profits," and as "hefty" rather than "paltry."  That's been true since the beginning. . .

. . .  The first library sold, the Donnell Library, the central destination, 97,000-square foot, five-story central destination library on what was documented to be the most valuable block in Manhattan at the time, was sold to net the NYPL less than $25,000 million.  The penthouse in the luxury tower that replaced it in the 50-story luxury tower replacing Donnell went on the market for $60 million.  Another single lower-level condo unit in the luxury building, 43A, sold for $20,110,437.50.  There is also a 114 guest room luxury hotel in the tower.  according to the Wall Street Journal, Chinese investors made that hotel,“the most highly valued hotel in the U.S.” after agreeing to buy it for “more than $230 million. . .  .more than $2 million a room.”

. . . The central destination Brooklyn Heights Library in Downtown Brooklyn, expanded and fully upgraded in 1993, one of the most modern and up-to-date libraries in the system would cost more than $120 million to replace.  The city sold it for less than its tear-down value, for less than its value as a vacant lot, and because it was sold to a developer who's inferior bid was not the highest bid, it's sale became the subject of one of the pay-to-play investigations of the de Blasio administration.  When costs are finally calculated it is likely the city and library administration officials will have netted less than $25 million from this library's ruination.

. . . In two suspicious real estate deals the NYPL has sold the 34th Street SIBL library, the city's biggest science library . . . . .

TO READ MORE- Click:  TO READ MORE- Click: Libraries Being Sold For Huge Losses And Minuscule Fractions of Their Value

Who Is Selling Our Libraries?

The plans to sell our libraries were announced under the Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration and it appears that they go back to at least 2005 and probably at least 2004.  Prior to the Bloomberg administration, NYC libraries were being expanded significantly under the Giuliani administration.  During the 2013 mayoral race, candidate Bill de Blasio said that the library sales should be halted, but in short order Mr. de Blasio was taking money from real estate developers "behind the curtain  . .very anxious to get their hands on these valuable properties.”

Once in office, Mayor Bill de Blasio continued with the library sales he decried as a candidate, although, to give the devil his due, de Blasio did not proceed with the full-blown NYPL Central Library Plan.  While the Mid-Manhattan library is now being subjected to a consolidating shrinkage it is no longer being sold straight out, but, under Mayor de Blasio we are still selling SIBL the city's biggest science library.  We are also still exiling research books off premises from where they were once readily and quickly retrievable at the 42nd Street Library.

There are other elected officials that are avidly taking the lead pushing these city library sales.  Foremost among them is city council member Brad Lander.  Also clearly conspicuous in his enthusiastic and unrelenting support for these plans is Jimmy Van Bramer head of the City Council Cultural Committee of which the city council's library subcommittee is a sub-component he domainates in leading.  .  .

 . .  Each particular local city council member must also be held responsible for what happens to the libraries in their districts, but revelations are that many of them, like Councilman Stephen Levin (Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg libraries), Ydanis Rodriguez (Inwood Library) and Carlos Manchacca (Sunset Park Library), were brought on board behind the scenes in advance to  . . .

TO READ MORE (including about the involvement of a Trump presidential son-in-law, Blackstone's Steve Schwarzman, the library boards of trustees, law enforcing officials standing idly by the sidelines and what are supposed to be charitable organizations serving the public) - Click:  WHO Is Selling Our Libraries?

When Did The Plans To Sell Libraries (Plus The Launching of The Concomitant Underfunding of Libraries) Begin?
Chart from Center From an Urban Future report showing sharp decline in funding (coinciding with plans to sell off/"leverage" libraries) against escalating use.  
As noted, although plans to sell NYC libraries were not announced by the Mayor Michael Bloomberg administration until much later, those plans actually to go back to at least 2005 or probably 2004David Offensend was hired by the NYPL in June of 2004 and, though he is imprecise, he says that he started working on library deals not long after his arrival there.  Janet Offensend, his wife, who helped launch BPL library sales started haunting the BPL and its board in 2005.  Other city development officials were being positioned by Mayor Bloomberg on the BPL board around that time.  (The Bloomberg administration took office January 1, 2002, shortly after 9/11.  By contrast, the Giuliani administration implemented library expansion plans that carried over into the early Bloomberg years.)

The BPL's minutes for 2005 show that in January a developer, perhaps jumping the gun based on inside knowledge, was angling to buy the 12,200 square-foot Midwood Library.  In November 2006 the New York Times ran a little noticed article about tearing down “obsolete” branch libraries to produce “new,” "better" library space in multi-use developments saying that a study had produced "an inventory of nearly every branch library in New York City" to identify "candidates for redevelopment" (like the "Red Hook, Sunset Park and Brower Park" libraries and the "Clinton Hill Library," which involves pushing through an accompanying rezoning.)  The article mentions "deferred maintenance" as a reason to redevelop the libraries.

In May of 2006 it was revealed that four Connecticut librarians had won a fight, secret because of a gag order since it began in July 2005, to resist broad federal surveillance of their library patrons.

Although the public did not know what it needed to know in order to see it happening, 2007 and 2008 were extremely eventful years in terms of furthering the plans to sell NYC libraries: 
    •    In January 2007, Booz Allen Hamilton (known principally as a private surveillance firm, the "colossus" in the industry, working for the federal government) was hired to assist the NYPL trustees with their strategy of the sale and reformulating of libraries.
    •    In the Summer of 2007 the Mayor Bloomberg and First Deputy Mayor Patti Harris expressed enthusiasm for the NYPL’s plans to sell and redevelop major central destination Manhattan Libraries.
         •    In November The Donnell Library sale was announced . . . .

TO READ MORE (a complete timeline of library sale events and maneuvers in 2007, 2008 and right through to to the formation of Citizens Defending Libraries) - Click: When Did Library Selling and Underfunding Begin?

It's Not Just The Real Estate Industry Threatening Libraries

While most New Yorkers are attuned to the power and excesses of the city real estate industry and therefore easily understand its role as a key motivator in the assault on libraries, it's unfortunately naive to believe that only the real estate industry has an agenda that is adverse to the tradition of continuing libraries as the democratic commons we have known them to be.

This gets us into some other big questions. TO READ MORE- Click: Examining The Panoply of Threats

Control of Information

Does dumbing down the public make sense, is it truly workable if you want an effective democracy?  The availability and control of information, including in libraries as copious storehouses of information, has always long disconcerted authoritarians.  For instance, is it surprising to know that Senator Joseph McCarthy exercised his influence to ban from U.S. controlled libraries the music and scores of the "Fanfare For The Common Man" composer Aaron Copeland, because McCarthy believed  . . . .
TO READ MORE- Click: Examining The Panoply of Threats 
No doubt there are those for whom it would be preferable if information in libraries was tidily circumscribed so that it just slipstreams comfortably behind the limited thinking and reporting of the corporate conglomerate controlled national media.  That's a corporate media which among other things and by example underreports the climate change crisis, and  . . .
TO READ MORE- Click: Examining The Panoply of Threats
 While the tradition has been to protect and preserve the information entrusted to libraries, information on the internet can be startlingly evanescent, its continued existence subject to decisions made by whim or out of wrath about what the public should see. . . .
TO READ MORE- Click: Examining The Panoply of Threats
The Internet And Digital as Business

As the world speeds into digital, it is important to recognize the pull and tugs of what the internet corporations would like, including reasons for wanting things to go digital.  There are reasons why, when just five or six (as of 2017) people control as much wealth as half of the rest of the world's population, that Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon (and Washington Post) owner Jeff Bezos, and Microsoft's Bill Gates are three for them (with another Carlos Slim Helu incidentally, as part of his media holdings, being the largest shareholder of the New York Times.  Those reasons coincide with the reasons Apple, Google/Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft are all vying (along with Exxon Mobile) for the spot as largest U.S. company.

 . . . Think where all this money comes from.  There is, of course, the ubiquitous advertising, as the pop-up ads that saturate far-flung corners of the internet will remind you, just as advertising saturates the monopolistically owned TV and radio airwaves.  There is also the data-scraping.  As the "old internet saw" was quoted when Google was wiring all of NYC's streets for wireless internet "for free": "If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product."  What the private internet companies know about you helps target you . . . .
TO READ MORE- Click: Examining The Panoply of Threats (or start by reading some of the snippets in different categories below.)
Privatized Political Advantage

Among those buying the data are political parties and their campaign operations looking to control the elected seats of government. Now with unprecedented insight into your preferences, those actors and operatives use the data to decide, with tools like gerrymandering, how much your vote should or should not be allowed to count.  With "voter preference files" that contain tens of thousands of "sets of data points" they have graduated from "microtargeting specific groups" to "nanotargeting" with different kinds of messages (whether true or not) designed elicit particular `emotional responses' from voters.  "Pay to sway" services supply a smorgasbord of  . . .
TO READ MORE- Click: Examining The Panoply of Threats
Owning Ideas and Culture to Charge For Them

The content industry has its wants as well.  Its purveyors desire, for instance, to get the public out to the very latest movie you see touted on billboards, simultaneously on the sides of city buses, via the ads on Comedy Central and other channels, perhaps also boosted by a "sponsorship" mention on your local public radio station as it does featurette reporting . . . 
TO READ MORE- Click: Examining The Panoply of Threats
A Reduction to Dollar$ Sense

. . Traditional libraries have always stood as models opposite to the concept that everything in the world, plus everything that ought to be prioritized and perpetually pushed to the fore should exist in stripped-down monetizable dimensions.  To evaluate the world exclusively in the very limited terms of seeing things in terms of just numbers or only following the money is, in an of itself, impoverishing.  A 2015 report published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review studied how  . . .
TO READ MORE- Click: Examining The Panoply of Threats

The last big subject to mention bears a relationship to the first topic.  When the government, whoever is in charge, isn't actually preventing citizens from reading certain books it might proscribe, it can, nevertheless, be interested in surveiling what books and information members of the public are reading.  In theory, this could allow the government to  . . . .
TO READ MORE- Click: Examining The Panoply of Threats
Who Is Hurt Most When Libraries Are Defunded and Dismantled? The Poor, The Racially  Discriminated Against, Scholars, Future Leaders

Defunding and dismantling our libraries hurts society broadly, probably more broadly than many may have considered.

It is, of course, usually recognized that cutting back on library services significantly impacts low-income neighborhoods relying on them.  A PowerPoint presentation to the Queens Library board told it that library service is most important to low-income users: 2/3rds visit at least weekly, & almost 30% visit every/most days.  A recent Pew research Center report says "Low-income Americans, Hispanics and African Americans are more likely than others to say that a library closing would impact their lives and communities," see them as community anchors, and use them to pursue jobs.  And it's been astutely commented that wherever it happens the loss of libraries is "another surefire way to entrench inequality."
Researchers and students also use the libraries.  Arguing to destroy libraries, the NYPL tried a divide-and-conquer-the-community approach suggesting that the research library was elitist and not sufficiently populist when in any given year the researchers and students at its 42nd Street central reference library consult "only 6% of print sources."  The same argument was being used to thin out collections at neighborhood libraries and move books off-site from those locations too.  That "6%" consultation rate was referred to by Ada Louise Huxtable in her very last column, published just weeks before her death (Wall Street Journal: Undertaking Its Destruction, December 3, 2012), in which she lambasted the NYPL's Central Library Plan including its stingy thinking that books should not be kept on hand if they are consulted infrequently:
If we could estimate how many ways in which the world has been changed by that 6%, the number would be far more meaningful than the traffic through its lion-guarded doors. The library's own releases, while short on details, consistently offer a rosy picture of a lively and popular "People's Palace." But a research library is a timeless repository of treasures, not a popularity contest measured by head counts, the current arbiter of success. This is already the most democratic of institutions, free and open to all. Democracy and populism seem to have become hopelessly confused.
Among other things, the 42nd Street Central Reference Library and SIBL are the libraries for the graduate students at CUNY, the City University of New York, who  . . . .

TO READ MORE (about how the benefits of libraries are transmitted throughout society, the racial discrimination in selling libraries and divide and divide-and-conquer-the-community ploys) - Click: Who Is Hurt Most When Libraries Are Defunded and Dismantled?

How Many Books Are Disappearing?

Venturing into a library to witness scads of empty book shelves is a disorientating experience.  The empty shelves constitute early warning signs: Empty shelves at Mid-Manhattan Library, SIBL, the Brooklyn Heights Library, the Grand Army Plaza Library, the 42nd Street Central Reference Library have meant that these libraries have been targeted to be involved in library sale and shrinkage plans.

It is stunning how many books have disappeared and become unavailable, multiple millions overall.  (Library administration officials have done their best to obscure true counts of the reductions.)  If the books disappear from targeted libraries far enough in advance library administration officials can deceptively promise that there will be as many books after the shrinkage of the library as before.  Another deception is for library officials to claim that if books are exiled to be consolidated elsewhere in a "deduping" center there will actually be "more" books as a result.  ("Deduping" is euphemism for book elimination, the idea being the more books you consolidate in a central location the more books you have that are "duplicates" to be eliminated.)

Amazingly, despite the increasing difficulty in obtaining books NYC book circulation is going up and circulation increases are mainly the physical books that patrons generally prefer.  The idea that because some books (not all- for instance, Robert Caro's "The Power Broker") are available digitally we no longer need libraries to supply physical books is a myth.  That library administration officials disparage physical books as "old-fashioned analogue books" or just "artifactual originals" or that those officials will spend more money to push people in to digital reading than what spending on physical books costs does not make that myth any more true.

When library officials solicit contributions from the general public they will jive about how they are asking for that money in order to buy more books because they know that is a vision the public will support and respond favorably to, but at the same time library officials are less than transparent about how they are actually removing books from library premises and from the system entirely.

For more information about how many millions of books have disappeared from which libraries . .

TO READ MORE- Click: How Many Books Are Disappearing From New York City Libraries?

Why Turning Libraries Into Real Estate Deals Isn't The Good Deal Library and City Development Officials Describe

At first blush, many people have accepted what city development and library officials have regularly asserted about the deals launching this city-wide program of converting libraries into real estate deals (or, similarly, "redeveloping" our schools for that matter), that by "unlocking" library real estate development rights with multi-use developments it is a "win-win" proposition that benefits the libraries as well as the developers and real estate industry.

The offer of a free lunch is a tempting thing to hope for, but it doesn't bear scrutiny.  The math, when you do it, simply doesn't work out: It is expensive to tear down existing, frequently recently renovated libraries that the public has already invested substantially in.  When these development ideas are promoted the math goes from initial wishful fantasies, to deliberately obfuscated lack of transparency, to outright mendacious misrepresentation.  If library officials had insisted that the Donnell Library or the Brooklyn Heights Library be fully and completely replaced when they were sold (irrespective or their spaces being shoved underground), the sales would have to be calculated showing deep and obviously absurd public losses. . .

There is also the disruption that affects the public. And, although library and city officials try to skip over the point, when library assets are being divested, the libraries are, in the process, shedding their opportunities for future expansion and to keep pace as the city grows.

Moreover and probably most important, such multi-use development schemes force the libraries to "partner" with powerful private real estate interests that ultimately wind up in the drivers seat, setting the priorities with big checkbooks that bankroll false and misleading PR.  With the moneyed interests throwing their weight around, the public is exposed to bait-and-switch variations.  The Donnell Library sale deal that was described to the press and public when it was announced in no way resembled the deal that was consummated.

Selling Libraries And The Broader Issue of Private Sector Plunder of Public Property

Libraries are not our only public commons that are undemocratically under attack.  The attacks on libraries reflect a much wider scourge of plundering our public assets with the selling off and privatizing of schools, hospitals, public housing, parks, and even the privatization of our streets and sidewalks.  Accordingly, instead of just fighting the library fight, Citizens Defending Libraries (and you can join us) has reached out to other activists to hold a series of forums on the selling off of public assets and help engender and understanding of the commonalty of the threats and tactics an subterfuges we see.  For instance, as Noam Chomsky has explained one such "standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don't work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.". .  (In other words, when the door is open to privatization and sell-off there is an inducement to underfund.)  And then, with the transfer to private ownership, the result for public gets even worse.

Some of The Biggest Lies To Watch Out For 

City and library officials working with real estate developers trot out a standard set of misleading falsehoods and ploys to promote library sales.  If you think they sound good, watch out, often what they are saying is pretty much opposite to the real truth.

Want to know what lies to watch out for? . .

TO READ MORE- Click: The Biggest Lies To Watch Out For When Official Sell Libraries

(Read about: lies about public process * Lies about how to oppose a sale * Lies that "replacement" libraries will be as big or bigger *  Lies that libraries are too "dilapidated" to fix * The "same number of books" lie)

Where Does It Go From Here?  What Can You do?

One thing you can do is consider this a worthy cause and inform yourself and others about it.  Protection and preservation of our libraries is something that most people instantly and automatically understand.  As one member of our group observed early on: "If you can't stop them at libraries, where can you stop them?"  That's why we must stop them.. .

 . .  But also, because people do understand what it means to protect libraries, because they understand it in their very bones, the protection of libraries is an issue and a cause that can be used as a fulcrum to push back on the many other issues that relate to it, the impoverishing privatizations of public assets in general, abuses of the real estate industry, the corrupting influence of money in politics, inequality of power and wealth and the abuses of power by the wealthy. 

What Can We Do Next?

TO READ MORE- Click: How to Defend Our Libraries.

(Read about: Altering the law * Insisting on transparency * defending library buttons * Our Letter of Support * Our petition * Our mailing List * Testimony at public hearings *  Birddogging elected officials  *  Contacting the press *  Social media * Having us speak to yous community organization * Letters to the editor/comment on web articles * Research help * FOIL assistance * Singing the marvelous Judy Gorman library song )

The morning crowd waiting for the Brooklyn Heights downtown library to open
The Petition Being Put Forth By Citizens Defending Libraries

The first petition (gathered over 17,000 signature, most of them online- available at signon.org with a background statement and can still be signed).   On June 16, Citizens Defending libraries issued a new updated petition that you can sign now:
Mayor de Blasio: Rescue Our Libraries from Developer Destruction
CONTACT: To contact Citizens Defending Libraries email MDDWhite (at) aol.com.

The archive of our previous web page (used into December 2017) can be found by clicking HERE.

Public Advocates Race- Who Is Running And Who Has Signed Our Defending Libraries Letter of Support (Plus, Very Important, Who Is Taking Real Estate Money!)

Who is running for NYC Public Advocate and more . . .
The whole race for NYC Public Advocate is sort of ridiculous at the moment.

There is no time for anyone to find out about the election (it’s on Tuesday the 26th of this month), figure out who is running, or to campaign and say what their positions are.  It is also for a stub term that will be over almost instantaneously.  The next election for the office basically starts as soon as this one ends.

Lastly, it is a shrieking advertisement for why we should have instant runoff voting.  With seventeen candidates (still) running it is a circular firing squad where candidates advertising similar positions will execute each other.  The winner could conceivable win with less than 10% of the vote (more likely it will be with a little over 20%).  A good Republican can be better than a bad Democrat (we don't want to be in any way prejudiced), but with only one Republican running, he may be the winner just because he is a Republican even though no candidate is allowed to run as either a Republican or a Democrat.

What may be more important is how quickly any winner of that office can do something that makes fireworks to set themselves up for the next election for that office.  That includes potentially doing something for libraries and doing the things that protects the city’s populace against the real estate industry, protecting the public realm, public places and maintaining a livable city with human dimension and scale for its residents.

We have written before about the importance of the office of NYC Public Advocate when our libraries are under threat.  Further, one of the prominent and obvious forces in the panoply of forces arraying to threaten libraries, is the real estate industry that spends so copiously to buy off our elected officials.  Information about which of the Public Advocates candidates are taking money from that industry and which of them are taking in the biggest and most troubling ways is available on an article in the Villager by Lynn Ellsworth of New Yorkers For a Human Scale New York (see- Wanted: Candidates who’ll fight big real estate, February 11, 2019) and in a related study she has published on the numbers (see- Follow the Money and the Voting Records:  Public Advocates Race . . .Candidates Who Participated in the First Debate  2/6/19- It uses cute little face icons as a guide to the ext and analysis).

In the Villager article Ms. Ellsworth says the race is lowering her expectations about what is in store for our future because the “race is rife with term-limited politicians, machine pols and recipients of real estate money.”

After a few curt remarks about the effect real estate money has already had on candidates in the huge field that is running Ellsworth says:
The sniff test of “who takes real estate money and who doesn’t” leaves a few candidates standing: David Eisenbach, Nomiki Konst, Dawn Smalls and Ben Yee — and to a lesser extent Kim and O’Donnell. The two women, Smalls and Konst, passed the first of the Campaign Finance Law’s funding thresholds and got into the public debate.
In the bad-news-might-be-good-news department, the most encouraging thing that can be teased out of this overall perplexing situation is that because very few people will vote and know about the election and the candidates, those who do may have significant extra sway over the results.  We encourage you to vote.  Just as important: Let the candidates you are voting for (and not voting for) because of their positions with respect to libraries and the real estate industry know about how those issues have directed your vote.

Right now a number of the candidates have signed the Citizens Defending Libraries letter of support:
Support and Sign-On Letter: Full and Adequate Library Funding, A Growing System, Transparency, Books and Librarians.
(We will be sending the information out to our multi-thousand list soon- plus potentially updating this post- so if you wish to exercise influence on any non-signers to tell them to get down to business please do.)

Public Advocate candidate signers are (roughly in order of quickness of response and enthusiasm):
David Eisenbach (who has written a letter about his support for libraries)
Nomiki D. Konst
Benjamin L. Yee
Jared Rich
Rafael L. Espinal
Non-signers are:
Melissa Mark-Viverito (She has actively ignored all our reach outs)
Yandis Rodriguez (Not likely to come around to signing since he secretly set up sale of Inwood Library)
Jumaane D. Williams (A front runner who should be signing and abstained on the City Council vote on the Brooklyn Heights Library sale as we recall)
And the others who have not gotten back to us:
Michael A. Blake
(Anthony) Tony Herbert
Ron Kim
Daniel (Danny) J. O’Donnell
Dawn L. Smalls
Latrice Walker
Eric A. Ulrich
A. Manny Aliccandro
Helal Abu Sheikh
Candidates who dropped out and are now irrelevant are:
Theo Chino
Daniel Christmann
Ifeoma Ike
Diane Savino
Gwenn Goodman
Michael Zumbluskas
Raphael Schweizer

Thursday, January 31, 2019

It Gets Personal, But This Gossip Is, In Fact, Real News About The Business of Selling Libraries- Two From That Constellation of Library-Selling Stars Hook Up As A Couple: Bruce Ratner and Brooklyn Library President Linda Johnson– Guess Where?

The photo of Bruce and Linda that creeps in here is from a recent BPL gala
Sometimes to report truly relevant news, even about the real estate deal sales that plunder our libraries, you have to sound a little bit like a gossip column. . . .

Guess who’s dating whom on the sly?  Guess who just got divorced?  What two darlings spotlighted in the annals of library sell-off deals are shacking up in a love nest the location of which you might find startling and hard to fathom?

A couple of days ago reporting by the Real Deal highlighted three “memorable” residential sales that just “popped up in records.”  The number one deal highlighted was a couple’s purchase of one of the luxury condo apartments in the much litigated over and promenade-view-impairing Pierhouse development in Brooklyn Bridge Park at 130 Furman Street. . .

And who was the “couple”?: it was Bruce Ratner and Brooklyn Public Library President Linda Johnson.

To wit, here is what the Real Deal reported:
    1.) Forest City Ratner co-founder Bruce Ratner along with Linda Johnson snapped up a condominium along the Brooklyn waterfront. The couple paid $4.7 million for the two-bedroom pad at 130 Furman Street. Ratner split from Dr. Pamela Lipkin, a plastic surgeon, who at one point during the couple’s divorce had alleged Ratner was trying to evict her from her clinic at 128 East 62nd Street.
See:  These are some of the most notable NYC resi sales of the week- Lots of Brooklyn Nets connections, by Mary Diduch, January 28, 2019

We generally like to be well wishers when couples unite, but what a confluence of the unsavory this is.  Where do we start in making the connections; there are so many connectable dots in play:
    •    Bruce Ratner is, after all, the Bruce Ratner “developer” of Forest City Ratner, who, as in the case of the Atlantic Yards Project (now going by the alias “Pacific Park”- Park?), has specialized in subsidy collection and preferential no-bid handouts from government.  When BPL president Linda Johnson first announced the sale of Brooklyn public libraries, saying that the BPL wanted to sell the most valuable libraries first, the two libraries at the top of her list for sale first were both adjacent to Forest City Ratner property.  See:  What Could We Expect Forest City Ratner Would Do With Two Library Sites On Sale For The Sake Of Creating Real Estate Deals? and A Ratner in the Stacks: Library To Sell Forest City-Adjacent Branches, by Stephen Jacob Smith, February 5, 2013.

    •    The BPL’s plan that prioritized for first sale of the two Ratner adjacent was part of a strategic real estate plan that applied to all Johnson’s BPL libraries, and we found out that the consultant who put that plan to together was Karen Backus of Karen Backus & Associates. Karen Backus was Vice President at Forest City Ratner until 1997 when she left to start this firm.  See: Mostly In Plain Sight (A Few Conscious Removals Notwithstanding) Minutes Of Brooklyn Public Library Tell Shocking Details Of Strategies To Sell Brooklyn’s Public Libraries.

    •    BPL’ spokesperson Josh Nachowitz said that the BPL would not rule out the possibility that it would sell to Ratner one of those BPL libraries prioritized for first sale, the second biggest library in Brooklyn, the central destination Business, Career and Education Brooklyn Heights federal depository library in downtown Brooklyn.  Ultimately, under the circumstances, doing so would have been very bad optics.  The Heights library was not, in fact sold to Ratner.  Nevertheless, the deal was structured in such a way that Ratner became the gatekeeper controlling whether the transaction could proceed.  See: Forest City Ratner As The Development Gatekeeper (And Profit taker) Getting The Benefit As Brooklyn Heights Public Library Is Sold.

    •    BPL president Johnson and Ratner will settle into the Pierhouse amongst company they know well and have significant connections to.  In September 2015 it was considered a scandal when it was discovered that Hank Gutman (Henry B. Gutman) and David Offensend had both purchased condo apartments in the Brooklyn Bridge Park Pierhouse condominium.  Both Gutman and Offensend were board members of the board of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBPC) that had to approve the Pierhouse development, something that then required the Conflicts of Interest Board to rule on whether this was a conflict (a ruling that it is not, is only a ruling by a politically connected COIB).  The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation has pushed for development in Brooklyn Bridge Park.  It has a lot of probably not so coincidental overlap with the board of the BPL where the trustees have pushed to turn libraries into real estate development.  Two of those overlaps are Mr. Gutman and Mr. Offensend themselves. Mr. Gutman who is also on the BPL board has been one of those pushing for library sales.  Mr. Offensend’s wife, Janet Offensend, was also on the BPL board for a critical period of time where she spearheaded adoption of the BPL strategic real estate plan to sell BPL libraries. That included hiring consultant Karen Backus from Forest City Ratner and overseeing the creation and submission of the Backus recommendations).  Janet Offensend’s work as a trustee closely mirrors the work that David Offensend, her husband, was concurrently doing as he set NYC public libraries up for sale when he was Chief Operating Officer of the New York Public Library (NYPL).  Thus, two of the first library sales by the NYPL and BPL respectively, the shrink-and-sink deal of the Donnell Library and the shrink-and-sink deal of the Brooklyn Heights Library (with Ratner as gatekeeper) mirrored each other closely   

    •    With David Offensend being involved in the approval of both transactions, Starwood Development wound up being involved both as a developer of the challenged Pierhouse development in Brooklyn Bridge Park and the luxury development that replaced the Donnell Library sold by the NYPL.

    •    The reason that the Pierhouse development was legally challenged, that community residents were so angry with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation and its board, and with Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation board members Gutman and Offensend getting condo apartments from the developer (even if the COIB declared there was no conflict of interest) was because of the shenanigans involved when the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (pushing for more development all the time anyway) allowed the Pierhouse development to violate representations and promises made to the community: The Pierhouse development surprised the community by being built extra tall, and obliterated views from the Brooklyn Heights promenade that were supposed to have been protected.  The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation tried shuffling off some of the blame to the Pierhouse development architects and including the way that those architects had done their numbers while interpreting some obscure rules the architects chose to apply in making the Pierhouse taller.

    •    Johnson and Ratner’s familiarity with Marvel Architects, the architects of their new digs also relates to libraries.  Marvel Architects, headed by Jonathan Marvel, in addition with being accused of running funny numbers to make Pierhouse taller is also the architect for the luxury tower replacing the Brooklyn Heights Business, Career and Education Library, plus is acting as advisor to Ms. Johnson and the BPL on design issues related to selling that library.  Marvel, as advisor to the BPL and Ms. Johnson came up with some very suspicious numbers respecting book counts and bookshelf capacity as the BPL tried to mount and press arguments to ensure that the library was sold for development.  See: It’s Marvelous To Have Books!- Indeed, But Architect Jonathan Marvel Designs a Library Seemingly Oblivious To The Tradition of Finding Books In The Library.

•         At this point, would it be superfluous to add that one of the first so-called “public/private partnerhsips” that BPL president has recommended for the BPL to be pursuing manifested itself in the form of the BPL partnering to promote to local school children Ratner’s Nets at his Atlantic Yards “Barclays” arena?
Back to gossip our column Hedda Hopper voice: We have a page up with more about the BPL trustees and the BPL’s senior officers including well worth reviewing bio of Linda Johnson,  Ms. Johnson started at the BPL in July 2010.  At her first meeting with the BPL board Ms. Johnson told the board how the BPL's real estate plans were her priority and not long thereafter reminded the BPL to remember that their goal was to lock the next mayor (whoever was successor to Bloomberg) into the real estate plans that were secretly underway.
Prior relationship: Linda Johnson with billionaire Leonard Lauder.
Often noted is that until December 2013 Johnson was dating another very wealthy man from a big company, Leonard Lauder, with plans to marry that were broken off just before the scheduled ceremony.  The New York Post states that they had been dating since 2012.  The Times says they were engaged in 2013.  (The relationship reportedly began after Lauder’s first wife Evelyn died in 2011.)  Leonard Lauder's very politically active brother Ron Lauder, also a famously wealthy billionaire was involved in clearing the prohibitions that allowed Bloomberg to get his third term.

The Pierhouse development offers extraordinary views of the New York’s harbor and the lower Manhattan skyline.  What allows it to manage it to do so involves, to an extent, the interposition by which the Pierhouse is grabbing views that were previously available from the Brooklyn Heights promenade and no longer are.  That raises an overall question about who gets the benefit when public assets are usurped for private benefit . . 
Above: Luxury NY Harbor and Manhattan skyline views offered, respectively by Pierhouse where Bruce and Linda bought a condo and by the luxury tower replacing Brooklyn's second biggest library that they were involved in selling off.
The luxury tower now replacing the downtown Heights Business, Career and Education Library that will now dominate the sky of historic Brooklyn Heights is, similarly to the Pierhouse, advertising stunning views.   Those views likewise include sweeping views of the harbor and the downtown Manhattan skyline.  And, as that luxury tower looks down on the much shorter federal courthouse across that way (that, with some success, was challenged for being too tall) it is worthwhile to remember that the spectacular views offered to residents of that tower are based on what the public sacrificed.  We mean by that not only the surrender of the skies of over historic Brooklyn Heights, but the sacrifice of a major library that was recently thoroughly renovated and upgraded to be state-of-the-art and one of the best in the BPL system.

If you are benefitting from the views in either of these developments you are unlikely to have second thoughts about any diminishment of the public realm by which those views may have been achieved.  However, like Bruce and Linda, you may have to keep buying new apartments, whatever has just been built, to stay ahead, and keep you back turned on the losses the public realm is suffering. . .   But the option of continually buying new apartments affording the latest edition of a good view may be something that only those who remain wealthy will be able to afford– That's true; Isn’t it? . .

. . . In that case, if you are benefitting from these newly marketed views, you might indeed actually have second thoughts about the diminishment of the public realm that made it all possible.  That’s because, like Bruce and Linda, your ongoing participation in that diminishment is vital your staying one step ahead on the treadmill.

(BTW: For those who may be confused seeing recent pictures of Mr. Ratner, he has recently shed a great deal of weight.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Library Defending Icons, A Fabulous Two-fer: Reverend Billy, The Stop Shopping Choir AND Michael Moore

Rev. Billy and Michael Moore, Dec. 16 in the lobby of The Public
What excitement!  Getting to watch two library defending icons meet, hug, and trade jokes: Reverend Billy and Michael Moore.  Reverend Billy and his Stop Shopping Choir are, of course, known for the songs they generate and perform about resisting the soulless, rampant consumerism that commercials and advertisements are perpetually seeking to claim our attention to promote.  As such, Billy and his choir are generally performing and getting extra attention around Christmas as they put out the message that Christmas can and should be a more spiritually based holiday. . .

 . . .  Michael Moore, knowing the work of our dear reverend, no doubt is quite aware of all this–  When Moore met the Reverend for the very first time he performed for Billy one of his own self-composed satirical songs about the commercialization of Christmas: written in 1966.  Indeed, he did so under our very eyes and close up: We have a snatch of video of Moore’s merry musical ditty.  We’ll share it with you below.

This is how our little two-fer came about.  At the end of December, Sunday the 16th, while sending out emails to invite other library defenders to join us at a library-defending table, we caught Reverend Billy and his Stop Shopping Choir who were featured at Joe’s Pub again for a few Sundays.  We recommend, whenever you can, catching a full fledged performance of the Rev and his choir in all their Hallelujah glory and Joe's Pub is one of the locales where you can often see them.
Joe's Pub December 16 performance
You'll never know beforehand exactly what will happen at a Reverend Billy+choir show or who might be attending in the audience.  Full disclosure, at one show the Reverend, who is always looking out for good work to trumpet about, declared library defenders in the persona of two of the individuals attending, Carolyn McIntyre and Michael D. D. White, saints in his church.  These individuals and the library defending cause were introduced to the rest of the audience with ceremonial pomp and then some extra laid on.

After this Sunday, December 16th performance, as we ourselves departed, Michael Moore was out in the lobby of The Public (of which Joe’s Pub is a constituent part).  You'll never know who will be in the audience for a Reverend Billy show.  Now, it actually turned out that Michael Moore hadn’t caught Billy's performance, although he said he’d like to catch one.  Still, performance artist Laurie Anderson (“O Superman") was one of those in the Stop Shopping audience that afternoon.  Not shabby!

We got talking with Mr. Moore who we have had the chance to speak with about the libraries once before.  Had we known enough to be able to recognize them when we ran into Moore and were thanking and appreciating him for his work, we would have realized he was with film makers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, founders of Elsewhere Films, who work with Moore.  So, although we didn't know it, we were obviously praising their work too.

We should tell you more about both Reverend Billy and Michael Moore as library defenders.  Who should we tell you about first?  Let’s start with Moore. . .

Talking with Mr. Moore we mentioned that we have a few pages up at about him and the libraries.  They are:
    •    Michael Moore (Who Says The Attacks On Libraries Are An Effort To Dumb Down The Public and That Librarians Saved His Book From Censorship) Has A Terrific New “Must See” Film: Fahrenheit 11/9

    •    Books As Catalysts In A World Where Information And Points of View Are Often Suppressed

    •    Michael Moore’s Anti-George Bush Book Was Saved From The Censorious 9/11 Tyranny by A Courageous Librarian Mobilizing Comrades

    •    How Did Trump Get Elected?: Michael Moore In “Terms of My Surrender” Envisions That It Was A Dumbing Down of the Country That Involved Closing Libraries
Mr. Moore did correct us on one thing though, the gentlemen we once identified as Mr. Moore’s bodyguard with him outside after his Broadway show, a gentleman who know well about the Inwood library sell-off, was actually his regular driver.

Reverend Billy and his choir have been the special guests with us at many a library demonstration almost from the start.  And the choir wrote and performed a don’t destroy libraries song to defend the 42nd Street Central Reference Library incorporating the words of Ada Louise Huxtable in her very last column: “You Don’t Update a Masterpiece.”  Ms. Huxtable’s last column was influential and inspiring in multiple ways.

Here are some of the links (including videos): 
    •    PHOTO GALLERY: June 3, 2013 Vigil At Central Reference Library Protesting Loss of Our Cultural Patrimony- Evening of NYPL Fund-Raiser (includes extra videos)

    •    New York Public Library SERMON by Rev. Billy + "Breaking Into Public Space" SONG

    •    SAVE THE STACKS! - NY Public Library Protest "Shoutin' out in Public Space" song

    •    Reverend Billy choir goes to save the libraries from sale a (includes “You Don’t Update A Masterpiece)

    •    PHOTO & VIDEO GALLERY: September 25, 2013 Rally Outside NYPL Trustees Meeting At the Countee Cullen and Schomburg Center Libraries In Harlem, 515 Malcolm X Blvd

    •    PHOTO & VIDEO GALLERY: February 14, 2015 Library Lovers Gather on Valentine's Day to Speak and Sing of Aching Hearts

    •    Valentine's Day- Open The Rose
Sometimes Rev. Billy and his band have soloed without other library defending groups.  In August of 2014 the Reverend Billy led a small band of fellow activists out to discover and visit the ReCAP facility site in New Jersey where the NYPL’s exiled research books are now entombed.  His plan was to lead a ceremonial “Stonehenge Circle” protest about the books’ removal.  The protest was interrupted, its completion effectively prohibited, because it turned out that ReCAP shares an area of Princeton University with the nearby Forrestal Campus, a high security level federal site.

Here are some of the photos we got of the meeting of these two great defenders of libraries and the public interest and who somehow also always manage to maintain the good humor to have some satirical fun with it all at the same time.   It’s followed by the video snippet we can share of Michael Moore singing his Christmas song to Billy.

Michael Moore with Citizens Defending Libraries co-founder Carolyn McIntyre

In the background Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, founders of Elsewhere Films. In the foreground right Citizens Defending Libraries co-founder Michael D. D. White.

Michael Moore sings his Christmas Song to Rev Billy (Click through to YouTube for best viewing)

While we are on the subject of satirical Christmas songs, we should mention that Tom Lehrer wrote his, A Christmas Carol,” which has in it this stanza:
Hark the herald tribune sings,
Advertising wondrous things.
God rest ye merry, merchants,
May you make the yuletide pay.
Angels we have heard on high
Tell us to go out and buy!
And while we are on the subject of defending libraries songs, and great personalities who entertain us as we fight for causes, let’s remember the “Don’t Sell Our Libraries Song” written for our cause by Judy Gorman who, still with us, sang on the same stage with an admiring Pete Seeger.