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, October 21, 2016

Citizens Defending Libraries Resource And Main Page

Defend our libraries, don't defund them. . . . .  fund 'em, don't plunder 'em 
Citizens Defending Libraries Rally at City Hall 4/18/2013 with Comptroller John C. Liu
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, with libraries being intentionally underfunded, their books and librarians eliminated.   During its its as yet short existence 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, but the libraries are still besieged by the threat of such plans.

This page (which will be periodically updated) provides resources in connection with the petition and campaign to oppose the defunding of New York City's libraries, the shrinkage of the system and the sale of library real estate in deals that prioritize benefit for developers.

Chart from Center From an Urban Future report showing sharp decline in funding (coinciding with plans to sell off/"leverage" libraries) against escalating use.  
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
You can also paste the following url into your browser.


This José Marti quote which can be found in this plaque on 41st Street's Library Walk is included in the petition to save New York City's libraries

All libraries in the New York City system are currently under siege.  For more details about affected libraries click here:  What Libraries Are Affected By City Strategy Of Defunding, Shrinking, Selling Off Libraries?

Here are additional action steps you can take that go beyond promoting the petition in order to help this campaign succeed: Action Steps You Can Take Including Contacting Elected and Other Public Officials.

Note about Citizens Defending Libraries (and allied groups) on Facebook and Twitter:   This, or any other of the individual pages at this Citizens Defending Libraries web location can be "liked" on Facebook if you go to the bottom of this page.  In addition, there is a Citizens Defending Libraries Facebook page that can also be "liked" on Facebook at:  Facebook- Citizens Defending Libraries (which will help you get notice of articles and new information pertaining to the cause when there are updates).  You can also follow Citizens Defending @DefendLibraries on twitter.

Our Facebook and Twitter will keep you up to date with the latest news and articles as they come out and allow you to easily share Tweets and posts.

In addition, the Committee to Save the New York Public Library has a Facebook page, and can be followed on Twitter (@saveNYPL).  Library Lovers League also has a Facebook page, and can be followed on Twitter (@LibraryLoversNY).

 News ArticlesAvailable Reference Articles

 •    Wall Street Journal: Undertaking Its Destruction, by Ada Louise Huxtable, December 3, 2012.
“There is no more important landmark building in New York than the New York Public Library, known to New Yorkers simply as the 42nd Street Library, one of the world's greatest research institutions. Completed in 1911 . . . . it is an architectural masterpiece. Yet it is about to undertake its own destruction. The library is on a fast track to demolish the seven floors of stacks just below the magnificent, two-block-long Rose Reading Room for a $300 million restructuring referred to as the Central Library Plan.”
 •    New York Times: Critic’s Notebook- In Renderings for a Library Landmark, Stacks of Questions, by Michael Kimmelman, January 29, 2013.
“this potential Alamo of engineering, architecture and finance would be irresponsible. . . a not-uncommon phenomenon among cultural boards, a form of architectural Stockholm syndrome.”
•    Noticing New York: 
    •    New City-Wide Policy Makes Generation Of Real Estate Deals The Library System’s Primary Purpose, (January 31, 2013).
 “Do we want a shrinking library system for a growing, wealthier city? . .  
     . . .  It’s what we are going to get as the principal purpose of the library system becomes the generation of real estate opportunities for developers.  This new city-wide policy has, in a very harmful way, turned into a perverse incentive for the city to defund libraries and drive them into the ground.”
    •    City Strategy Of Withholding Basic City Services To Blackmail Public Into Accepting Bigger Development, (Friday, February 1, 2013)
    •    What Could We Expect Forest City Ratner Would Do With Two Library Sites On Sale For The Sake Of Creating Real Estate Deals? (Sunday, February 3, 2013)
Two of the sites identified for sale in the forefront of this march towards divestiture of assets with a concomitant shrinkage of the system are in Brooklyn.   . . .  Whether by coincidence or not, both of these sites . .  are immediately adjacent to property the government has previously put in the hands of Forest City Ratner pursuant to no-bid deals . . .
    •    Libraries That Are Now Supposedly “Dilapidated” Were Just Renovated: And Are Developers’ Real Estate Deals More Important Than Bryant Park? (Saturday, February 9, 2013)
    •    If Our Besieged Libraries Could Speak For Themselves: Maybe They Do! A Petition And Efforts To Save New York’s Libraries From Developer Deals, (Wednesday, February 20, 2013)
The greatest shame of such a plan is that it, even if it shakes loose a few real estate deals, maybe a few every year, it is a travesty to continually drives all libraries and the entire system into the ground financially.
•    Center For An Urban Future:  Report - Branches of Opportunity, by David Giles, January 2013
[Libraries] “have experienced a 40 percent spike in the number of people attending programs and a 59 percent increase in circulation over the past decade”
 •    New York City Independent Budget Office:  Funding Cuts Could Shelve Many Library Branches, by Kate Maher and Doug Turetsky, April 13, 2011 
“The funding fall-off is already taking a toll on the city’s three library systems, particularly the systems in Brooklyn and Queens.” . . .“more than three dozen branch libraries may be closed.”  [Bloomberg on a course to bring waning city funding for New York’s three library systems to its] “lowest level since the 1990s.”   [The city’s 59 community boards ranked library services their] “third highest budget concern” . . [and] “Brooklyn’s community boards ranked libraries their top priority.”
.•    The Albert Shanker Institute:  The High Cost Of Closing Public Libraries, by Matthew Di Carlo, April 18, 2011
In fiscal year 2008 (again, according to the U.S. Census Bureau), there were roughly 9,300 public libraries in the U.S., with a total cost of around 10.7 billion dollars. That figure represents roughly 0.4 percent – four tenths of one percent – of all state and local government expenditures. On a per capita basis, this is about 35 dollars per person.  [local-level analyses] “have found that for every dollar we spent on public libraries, the public realizes about 3-5 dollars in benefits.”
•    The Daily News:  Coming to Brooklyn Heights: the incredible shrinking library, patrons and residents charge -- Controversial plan to sell library building to private developer who will build apartment tower over it, by Lore Croghan, February 17, 2013.
. . . a controversial plan to sell the city-owned Brooklyn Heights Library building to a private developer who will erect an apartment tower with a new, 15,000 square foot branch - smaller than the book hall that’s there now.. . . many patrons use the business library like it’s part of their neighborhood branch — and are upset the space will be eliminated.
•     Library Journal: Donnell sale highlights need for transparency in decision-making, by Francine Fialkoff, Editor-in-Chief, February 1, 2008
. . . the building that housed Donnell has been sold to make way for a hotel and a much smaller public library. .  (w)ith the proposed library having less than half the space for public services as the old Donnell . . . questions remain about the location of some of the collections. . . More importantly, the breakup of the collections diminishes the role of Donnell as a central library . . .  The decisions . . .  [were] communicated to staff (and in the case of Donnell, to the public) largely after the big decisions have been made.

Should a public/private entity like NYPL. .  so blithely sidestep public and staff input?
[The] Libraries Subcommittee chair of the New York City Council . . . “. . didn't know about the Donnell sale ahead of time.”  “It's troubling . . . in terms of . .  the whole mission of the library.”

. . .  It's way past time for NYPL leaders to come out from behind their cloak of secrecy. .  get staff and public feedback before making any other sweeping changes.
•      Walkers In The City:  Patience and Fortitude, by Romy Ashby. February 22, 2013.
The meeting was crowded with mostly older people hearing the same kind of talk about their library and smelling a rat. “The 42nd Street library isn’t the only library in trouble,” a man said. “It’s the whole library system.” A lady in her seventies told of standing up to Robert Moses and winning. “We’re not gonna watch our libraries be demolished!” she said. “We want the library we have, nothing less! The minute you give in to their conditions you’re finished! You get bupkis!” I sat and listened, and some of what I heard was this:

The city is deliberately underfunding the libraries despite library use being way up. Perfectly good libraries are being labeled ‘Dilapidated’ to justify their destruction. Librarians have been warned to sound enthusiastic if asked about any such plans. The money from the sale of libraries will not go back into the library system, despite what library brass may say. . .
•        The Leonard Lopate Show: Controversy at the New York Public Library, Scott Sherman, a contributing writer for The Nation and Caleb Crain, a former Fellow at the NYPL and author of American Sympathy, talk about the proposed changes, staffing cuts and construction plans, March 12, 2012.

•       The Nation: Upheaval at the New York Public Library, by Scott Sherman, November 30, 2011.

•       The Nation: The Hidden History of New York City’s Central Library Plan: Why did one of the world’s greatest libraries adopt a $300 million transformation without any real public debate?, by Scott Sherman, August 28, 2013.
 For two years, the NYPL has refused to discuss the CLP in detail, and many questions remain unanswered. How and why did one of the world’s greatest libraries get into the real estate business? How did the CLP, which was formulated between 2005 and early 2007, advance into late 2011 without any significant public debate or discussion? Who first conceived the idea of demolishing book stacks that were constructed by Carrère and Hastings in the first decade of the twentieth century? What role did the Bloomberg administration play in the creation of the CLP? Finally, what was the role of Booz Allen Hamilton—the gargantuan consulting firm whose tentacles reach into the defense, energy, transportation and financial service sectors—which was hired by the NYPL in 2007 to formulate what became known inside the trustee meetings as “the strategy”?
•       The Wall Street Journal: Clueless at the Corcoran- What the museum's latest bad decision says about nonprofit governance, by Eric Gibson, February, 24, 2014.
. . .  the untold story of our time is the emerging crisis in nonprofit governance, where boards embark on policies that go against-and even imperil-the mission of the institution they are charged to oversee and protect.

. . . The New York Public Library wants to gut its magnificent Beaux Arts building on Fifth Avenue and change it from a research institution to, as Ada Louise Huxtable wrote in this newspaper, "a state-of-the-art, socially interactive, computer-centered" circulating library, with fewer books, a good number of them moved off-site.
•       The Brooklyn Eagle (Exclusive): Brooklyn Public Library in line for audit, says Comptroller Stringer, by Mary Frost, February, 28, 2014.
Groups opposing the controversial sales of Brooklyn and Manhattan library branches to developers have long been pushing for an audit of the BPL and NPL systems. . .

“Some of the things raised with respect to the Queens library system are interesting and worth investigating but the Queens expenditures ($140K for a conference deck) are penny ante compared to the library sales at the NPL and the BPL,” commented Michael D. D. White, a founding member of Citizens Defending Library, following a Brian Lehrer interview with Comptroller Stringer. “The Queens Library system has not been selling off libraries like the other two,” White added.
•       City Limits: New Scrutiny of City's Library Trustees- The trustees of the city's library systems oversee more than 200 branches and the spending of hundreds of millions of city dollars. How representative of the city are they?, by Suzanne Travers, June 18, 2014.
Over the last year, library trustees have seen more of the spotlight than usual because of moves that put boards at odds with public opinion. . .

* * *
As repositories of information available to anyone who walks through the door, libraries have always helped foster transparency, accountability and democracy. Their boards, however, struggle on all three counts.
 •      The Brian Lehrer Show: Giving Libraries Their Due, David Giles, research director at the Center for an Urban Future and the author of the report, "Branches of Opportunity", argues that New York City's public libraries deserve even more support in the digital age. (Click below to listen) January 15, 2013.
More people visited public libraries in New York than every major sports team and every major cultural institution combined.

Chart from the Independent Budget Office- Adjustments for inflation (per the Urban Future report) shows downturn in starkest relief.
Meville House article on Citizens Defending Libraries event used picture from July rally where Bill de Blasio joined CDL to call for a halt to these library sales.  Video of event on CDL's Youtube channel.
  •      Melville House: Citizens Defending Libraries calls the Central Library Plan “a real estate grab” and “contrary to the public interest”, by Claire Kelley, February 19, 2014.
Citizens Defending Libraries, which was co-founded by Michael D. D. White and Carolyn McIntyre, has been organizing protests and actions against the Central Library Plan. They have told us that they are continuing to solicit "petition signatures to ensure the de Blasio administration scraps all of the Bloomberg library sell-off plans.". .

. . . Citizens Defending Libraries is just now arriving at our first anniversary, just blowing out the single candle on our birthday cake.  We formed in response to breaking headlines at the very beginning of last year about how libraries were being sold off at the end of the Bloomberg administration in deals that would benefit real estate developers, not the public.
  •      New York Times: Denying New York Libraries the Fuel They Need, by Jim Dwyer, April 23, 2015.
The city's libraries - the fusty old buildings, and a few spiffier modern ones, . .  have more users than major professional sports, performing arts, museums, gardens and zoos - combined.

* * * *

Over the last decade, they have not gotten anywhere near the kind of capital funding enjoyed by sports teams.

From the 2006 fiscal year through 2014, the city budgeted at least $464 million to build new baseball stadiums for the Yankees and the Mets, and $156 million for the Barclays Center. That's $620 million for just those three sports arenas - a sum more than one-third greater than the $453 million that the city committed for capital improvements to the its 206 branch libraries and four research centers, which serve roughly seven times as many people a year as attend baseball games. (The budget figures were provided by the city's Independent Budget Office; the teams are getting an additional $680 million in subsidies spread over 40 years.)
For decades, the libraries have served a single function in the city budget process: hostages. Mayors say they have to cut library hours to make the financial books balance.. .
 Additional Links. For more in a running series of Noticing New York articles about the libraries click here: Libraries Series.  Also, here are pages with articles that reference respectively 1.)  The Central Library Plan affecting the Tilden Astor Central Reference Library at 42nd Street, the Mid-Manhattan, Library, SIBL and the Donnell, 2.) The Brooklyn Heights libraries, and The Pacific Branch library, and 3.) Libraries in general.  

Foreground: The lion Patience , of Patience and Fortitude fame, in front of 42nd Street Research Library, whose research stacks will be sacrificed.  Background:  Mid-Manhattan Library that will be sold in system shrinkage plans
Flyers and Handouts Images, Cartoons, Flyers, Handouts Posters 

For images and cartoons for posters, rallies and handouts CLICK HERE.  For flyers and handouts for canvassing and getting the word out about the petition CLICK HERE.


Citizens Defending Libraries is making videos available on the Citizens Defending Libraries YouTube Channel.  Selected videos from that channel can also be found here in the Video Page.

Related Petitions

(It is expected more will be added to this list with accompanying explanations)

**** Citizens Defending Libraries is right now is working with the Committee to Save the New York Public Library and Library Lovers League to make sure every signs and (electronically) sends this email to the mayor (CCs are going to other elected officials): Email the Mayor!  ****

There is another separate petition (currently over 1300 signatures) by the Committee to Save the New York Public Library that has been up for some time and specifically opposes the Central Library Plan in Manhattan:

    Anthony W. Marx: Reconsider the $350 million plan to remake NYC's landmark central library

The following petition to save Long Island College Hospital (LICH) is relevant to the save the libraries petition, particularly for the residents of Brooklyn Heights and Northwest Brooklyn, because of commonality of related issues that were explained at the annual Brooklyn Heights Association meeting and in the following article:  Wednesday, February 13, 2013, One-Stop Petition Shopping: Report On The Brooklyn Heights Association Annual Meeting, LICH and Libraries.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYS Health Department Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah : Keep University Hospital Brooklyn at Long Island College Hospital open, by  Assemblywoman Joan Millman

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
You can also paste the following url into your browser.


CONTACT: To contact Citizens Defending Libraries email Backpack362 (at) aol.com.

Upcoming and Recent Events

[Back To Main Page]  (The main updates to this page now just occur in the calendar below.)

Below is Citizens Defending Libraries publicly available Google Calendar (set up 03/22/2013) where event may appear first before being transcribed into the bullet calendar items that appear before it

IMPORTANT UPCOMING EVENT: Mayoral forum on Libraries hosted by Citizens Defending Libsaries and the Committee to Save the Public Library from 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM, Friday August 30, 2013 at the Kane Street Synagogue in Cobble Hill Brooklyn.  Click on calendar even below for further details.
Upcoming Events
•   Please refer to the calendar above for upcoming events.  We have switched over to this (together with periodic emails to signers of the petition) as the primary means of updating people although we may occasionally list put certain future events down below here to get them extra attention.
•   Important Note Respecting One Of The Events In The Calendar Above-  The Jun 8 – 9, 2013 24-Hour Library Read-In by New Yorkers Standing Up for Libraries- Hosted by Urban Librarians Unite.  This is one of the events on the calendar not organized by Citizens Defending Libraries (most are not).   Urban Librarians Unite (created circa 2008) contacted Citizens Defending Libraries to express their wish that Citizens Defending Libraries communicate Urban Liberians Unite's wish that people not come to attend their 24-Hour Library Read-In event if they believe:
    •    We shouldn’t be selling off our NYC libraries the way we are.
    •    We shouldn’t be shrinking our library system assets
    •    It is a matter of public concern that we are getting less than appropriate value when these assets are sold, and/or
    •    Public representatives should assert themselves to protect these public assets.
Urban Librarians Unite also informed CDL that they considered inclusion of this publicly advertised (previously come-one-come-all event) public event in the calender “unacceptable.”  In other words they wanted to Shush us about their "We Will Not Be Shushed Read In June 8 & 9th! Sign Up Now!" event.  Urban Librarians Unite objected to the testimony CCL delivered at the City Council budget hearing on June 5, 2013 and apparently, there was concern on their part that people with negative feelings about library sales and shrinkage might participate in the event to express their opposition to underfunding of libraries, or that such people might communicate with attendees of the event about this related subject. CDL doe not allow those holding public events to dictate exclusion (or inclusions) of information in the calendar about relevant library related events (mayoral forums, library trustee events, etc.), but agreed, in this instance to express the above about ULU's conscientious efforts to exclude public opposition to the library sales and shrinkage from their message. 
 Recent and past Events
•    Sunday, February 17th, 5:00 PM: Progressive Community Building Event, Brooklyn Heights, Montague & Hicks Streets
 •    Sunday, February 24th, 4:00 PM: Progressive Community Building Event, Brooklyn Heights (Clark & Monroe)
 •     Thursday, February 28, 5:00 PM:  People should show up early for a meeting at the Brooklyn Heights Library (280 Cadman Plaza) about the proposed sell-off and shrinkage of that library, possibly to Forest City Ratner. It will include attendance by elected representatives, City Councilman Steve Levin and State Senator Daniel Squadron and representatives of the Brooklyn Heights Association.

•     Sunday, March 3, 4:00 PM: Progressive Community Building Event, Brooklyn Heights (Clark & Monroe)  Petition signers are invited to click on the link to sign up for this event (on Moveon.org) where next steps in our campaign will be discussed.

•     Friday, March 8, 10:00 AM: (testimony opportunity at 1:00 PM):   (Click the sign-up LINK to let us know us know you are coming - Council green sheet notice in image at right, click to enlarge) There will be a City Council hearing about the city budget for libraries meaning that it will provide a forum for addressing the defunding of libraries and the “demolition by neglect” of the library system preparatory to its shrinkage through the proposed sell-offs to developers.  We are planning a demonstration for 10:30 AM when we expect press to be there.  The public will have to wait to testify last, starting at 1:00 PM.  Citizens Defending Libraries has issued a press release.  Pictures and testimony are available here: Testimony By Citizens Defending Libraries At March 8, 2013 City Council Committee Hearing On Library Budget Issues
 •     Saturday, March 9, 4:30 PM: Progressive Community Building Event, Brooklyn Heights (Clark & Monroe)  Petition signers are invited to click on the link to sign up for this event (on Moveon.org) where next steps in our campaign will be discussed.
•     Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 5:30 PM: The City Services and Budget Committee of Community Board 5 will meet 5:30 p.m. at the Board Office, 450 Seventh Ave, Suite 2109, to discuss and respond to the Mayor's Preliminary budget.  The Community Board should be asked to oppose the Central Library Plan and the shrinkage of the City’s libraries, particularly the main libraries within their district for the sake of all New Yorkers in the city, to oppose the defunding of libraries being used as an excuse for these real estate deals and should be asked to stand up and demand that Donnell Library (also being consolidated in the shrinkage of the CLP) be restored to it original size or bigger, rather than being shrunk to ½ or 1/3 of its previous size.
•     Wednesday, March 13, 10:00 AM: Join the District Council 37 Local 1930 New York Public Library Guild Rally on the steps of City Hall for an immediate change to a permanent baseline funding for New York City's libraries.
•     Saturday, March 16, 2:00 - 4:00 PM: Canvassing outside Brooklyn Heights Branch and Business and Career Library (weather reasonably permitting).

 •     Sunday, March 17, 4:00 PM: Progressive Community Building Event, Brooklyn Heights (Clark & Monroe)  Petition signers are invited to click on the link to sign up for this event (on Moveon.org) where next steps in our campaign will be discussed.
•     Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 6:30 PM: Meeting of trustees of the "Friends of the Brooklyn Heights Library" (not really friends) at Brooklyn Heights Library (280 Cadman Plaza).  Public not invited.
•     Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 10:00 AM: City Planning Commission review and public hearing for the Walentas Two Tree Development BAM South project in connection with which BPL is proposing the closing and sell-off of the Pacific Branch library.  22 Reade Street.
•     Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 6:30 PM: Committee of Brooklyn's Community Board 6 meeting for the BPL's first presentation of its intentions to representatives of the community board (after the City Planning hearing) with respect to its proposed closing and sell-off of the Pacific Branch library and the proposed opening of a library in in the Walentas Two Tree Development BAM South project. 78th Police Precinct, 65 6th Avenue, Court Room (between Bergen/Dean Streets).
•     Thursday, March 21, 5:00 PM:  Meeting (open to the public) chaired by "Friends of the Brooklyn Heights Library" (not really friends) on behalf of Brooklyn Public Library at the request of Brooklyn Heights Association to further the sale and shrinkage of the Brooklyn Heights library.  Elected's and their representatives may attend to participate. At Brooklyn Heights Library (280 Cadman Plaza).
•     Saturday, March 23, 2:00 - 4:00 PM: Canvassing outside Brooklyn Heights Branch and Business and Career Library (weather reasonably permitting).
 •     Sunday, March 24, 4:00 PM: Progressive Community Building Event, Brooklyn Heights (Clark & Monroe)  Petition signers are invited to click on the link to sign up for this event (on Moveon.org) where next steps in our campaign will be discussed.
 •     Saturday, March 30, 2:00 - 4:00 PM: Canvassing outside Brooklyn Heights Branch and Business and Career Library (weather reasonably permitting).
  •     Wednesday, April 3, 6:00 PM: Mayoral Forum.  St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn New York 11201.
 •     Sunday, April 7, 4:00 PM: (We are skipped a week because of Easter) Progressive Community Building Event, Brooklyn Heights (Clark & Clinton)  Petition signers are invited to click on the link to sign up for this event (on Moveon.org) where next steps in our campaign will be discussed. 
  •     Thursday, April 11, 8:00 PM: Mayoral Forum.  Jewish Center of Jackson Heights.  See calendar above.
  •    Citizens Defending Libraries Libary Protection Week Events- A Series of Events from Saturday, April 13th to Thursday April 18th[This week of events is documented in pictures, video and vido links here: PHOTO GALLERY- CDL's Library Protection Week and there is also a press release for the culminating City Hall CDL Press Conference with Comptroller John C. Liu.] Come to our rallies to protect and defend our public Libraries from being underfunded and sold off to private developers. Let our public officials know they need to put a halt to any more sales and restore proper funding to the system!  See events below culminating at City Hall with the New York City Comptroller. 
NYS Assemblywoman Joan Millman
City Council Member Stephen Levin speaking 
Brooklyn Heights Library
280 Cadman Plaza by Tillary
•    Pacific Library
Park Slope/Boerum Hill Brooklyn 
For more info (and you can let us know you are coming)
 •     (Sunday, April 14, 4:00 PM: Also listed below- Citizens Defending Libraries regular weekly planning meeting, - not officially part of Library Protection Week events- Progressive Community Building Event, Brooklyn Heights (Clark & Clinton)  NOTE: Comptroller John Liu will visit and speak with use from 4:00 PM to 4:30 PM.)

  •    Monday, April 15, Noon to 1:00
Central Library Plan Sit Out and Rally
In front of 42st Central Reference Library and Mid-Manhattan  Branch
For more info (and you can let us know you are coming)
20 West 53rd Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues, (meet on 40 West 53rd)
Home of Winnie The Pooh, rare music CDs, and documentaries
Sold off to a developer in 2008 and still no promised replacement
Come say We Remember and Never Again!
For more info (and you can let us know you are coming)
Steps of City Hall
Comptroller John Liu to speak 
Come early to go through security
Sign up, get info here (and you can let us know you are coming)
•     Sunday, April 14, 4:00 PM: Progressive Community Building Event, Brooklyn Heights (Clark & Clinton)  NOTE: Comptroller John Liu will visit and speak with use from 4:00 PM to 4:30 PM. Petition signers are invited to click on the link to sign up for this event (on Moveon.org) where next steps in our campaign will be discussed.
   •     Saturday, April 20, 9:30 AM (doors open): Mayoral Forum on Public Housing at Salvation Army Auditorium (starts at 10:30 AM) .  See calendar above.
 •     Sunday, April 21, 4:00 PM: Progressive Community Building Event, Brooklyn Heights (Clark & Clinton)  Petition signers are invited to click on the link to sign up for this event (on Moveon.org) where next steps in our campaign will be discussed.
    •     Monday, April 22, 6:00 PM: Mayoral Forum on Sustainability.  See calendar above.

    •     Tuesday, April 23, 8:30 AM: Mayoral Forum on Small Business and Workforce issues.  See calendar above.

    •     Wednesday, April 24, 6:00 PM: Community Board 2 Cultural Committee meeting, presentation from BPL on sale and shrinkage of Brooklyn Heights Library, also report on Clinton Hill and Walt Whitman libraries.  See calendar above.
•     Sunday, April 28, 4:00 PM: Progressive Community Building Event, Community Room in 101 Clark Street, Brooklyn Heights (Clark & Clinton) where next steps in our campaign will be discussed.
 •     Create Your Own Event!!!: It might be canvassing outside your own library or library of your choice.  Or maybe an information event at your school or church.  Contact us if you would like our help or suggestions.  We can post information about your event here.  We will also be happy to coordinate to send a representative to your event.
 CONTACT: To contact Citizens Defending Libraries email Backpack362 (at) aol.com.

You may also leave a comment with information in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

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
You can also paste the following url into your browser.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Scruffing Things Up As Fast As Possible, De Blasio’s Pay-To-Play Developer Starts Trashing Brooklyn’s Still Publicly Owned Second Largest Library

This week on Wednesday, David Karmer’s Hudson Company sent a crew of men out to start trashing the still publicly owned Brooklyn Heights Library.

This very important destination library is still city-owned.  It’s Brooklyn second biggest and with the substantial enlargement and full upgrading it got in 1993 it is one of the most technologically advanced and up-to-date libraries in terms of supporting computers and modern technology.

Why would the de Blasio allow his pay-to-play developer, apparently granting the developer a license, to come in and start wrecking, scuffing up and trashing a still publicly owned building?  Bear in mind that allowing this wreckage before the developer has closed on or acquired rights to the property violates the oft touted promises of Mr. de Blasio and his representatives and people like Councilman Steve Levin that the library and its public property would suffer no destruction until a full set of protections was put in place to ensure that the luxury condo and the teeny replacement library (a much more underground library) would be built.

Here are some thoughts on why this is occurring now.
    1.    De Blasio, the developer and the BPL board and honchos don’t want a pristine and perfect piece of public property sitting grandly and obviously unused on Tuesday, November 8th the day that people are supposed to go out to vote for Hillary Clinton (not Trump, Jill Stein or Gary Johnson according to de Blasio).  The library’s public auditorium has been a key neighborhood polling spot for sometime.  With its doors sealed there isn’t currently an adequate replacement which has caused considerable public complaint about the failure to use this obviously still available valuable public asset.  You don’t want people going to the polls in November more angry than they have to be.  And Hillary surely doesn’t want Democrats showing up angry or not showing up at out of disgust or discouragement–   This library is, after all, given the intersection of the streets where it is located, the “Tillary Clinton Library.”  It is, furthermore, immediately adjacent to the Forest City Ratner owned building where Hillary has her national campaign headquarters.  The building is even, for development purposes, part of the same real estate development parcel as Hillary’s headquarters thus constituting Hillary’s Forest City Ratner landlord a gatekeeper to the library sale, shrink and sink transaction.  Notwithstanding, Hillary did not answer our calls to come forth and oppose this privatization of public assets that was laying at her doorstep. – It is important to note that while Hillary can be scolded for how this library sale lays uncriticized by her at her very doorstep, Trump has much the same problem: The shrink-and-sink sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library was modeled on the shrink-and-sink sale of the Donnell Library (there was an overlap of the people behind both) and one of the principal financial beneficiaries of the sale of Donnell for a pittance was Jered Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and top campaign advisor.

    2.    Via the symbolism attendant with a cavalier degradation of the still publicly owned library, the city wants to help the Hudson Companies prove to banks and those from whom the developer is seeking financing and guarantees that the developer isn’t afraid of the investigations into his deal, including the criminal pay-to-play investigation by Preet Bharara’s US Attorney’s office.   The impunity with which the developer hopes to vandalize the library before he owns it is like a thumb in the eye of the investigators to proclaim that he doesn’t fear them or being held financially responsible for the astronomical losses that will be engendered for the public when he proceeds.  It’s a risky ploy.  The developer is not a good faith purchaser for value of this property and the world is adequately on notice so that the developer and the property can be directly proceeded against resulting in substantial losses sustained by those who do business with him on this property.

    3.    As an extension of number 2 above, the developer wants, with a toe-in-the-water or camels-nose-under-the-tent, to show that no one is going to stop him even as promises are not kept.  While he may not be taking final steps here, the developer would surely like to demonstrate that no one is going to stop him, even as he imitate without keeping promises.   He’d like to show that community won’t stop him and that public officials like Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Tish James won’t let out a squeak of opposition.  We buttonholed Comptroller Stringer just the other day and complained about his non-investigation of the library together with his failure to produce the BPL library audit he promised.  “I don’t investigate libraries,” he said.   We responded that his website, his press releases and public statements all represent that he does investigate corruption, fraud and abuse and the waste of city funds.  And Comptroller did produce an audit of the Queens Library where he went into details about much less significant matters comparatively involving just a few dollars: How the former Queen Library head improper used his library credit car to put gasoline in his other family members’ cars.
The head of the crew of men trashing the library didn’t want pictures taken or people walking on the public property near the library.  “You can’t do that!” he said, “they gave us the library!”

Monday, October 17, 2016

What Libraries Are Affected By City Strategy Of Defunding, Shrinking, Selling Off Libraries?

[Back To Main Page]  The information posted here at Citizens Defending Libraries, including this page, will be updated, evolved and developed further.

What libraries are affecting by city strategy of defunding, shrinking, selling off libraries?  All the libraries in the system are affected but here are highlights (which will be updated), focusing on the most immediate:
(We invite you to contact Citizens Defending Libraries with more information about what is going on with libraries you know about to add more information to this list.  See contact information and comments sections at bottom of page.)
    •   Libraries everywhere in New York City?  At a November 18, 2015 City Council hearing Brooklyn Public Library President Linda Johnson said that the sale and shrinkage of the Brooklyn Heights Library (itself modeled after the sale and shrinkage of the NYPL's Donnell library) was being looked at by all three NYC library systems (Brooklyn, the NYPL and Queens) as a model for similar transactions.

    •    Four Main Libraries in Manhattan (plus?):
    •        The Donnell Library (53rd between 5th and 6th Avenues) was closed for shrinkage in 2008, its collection disbursed.  Its former location now a construction site, “plans” having not worked out.  Perhaps a half-size library will be provided by 2014.
    •        The main research library at 42nd Street will have its recently-renovated research stacks destroyed, decommissioning it as the premier world class research resource it was meant to be.
    •        Mid-Manhattan (Across Fifth Avenue) will be sold as part of the consolidating shrinkage plan.
    •        The relatively new Science Library at 34th Street will also be sold as part of the consolidating shrinkage plan.
    •        Further down the list are. . . ?
     •       When the NYPL unveiled its system-wide real estate plans to staff in March of 2008 it identified a plan to put a new hub library in Northern Manhattan (Harlem?).  This is the only new hub library that seems to have been proposed anywhere.  What this plans means cannot be said with certainty, but going back to the Donnell Library closing in 2008, following through with consolidating shrinkage of the proposed Central Library Plan and now the sell-off of the Brooklyn Heights library, all central or hub libraries of any kind have been associated with the sale and shrinkage of other previously existing libraries in the vicinity.  Therefore, there shoud be concern about the upcoming sale and closing of libraries in northern Manhattan and Harlem.
    •    Spaceworks and its mission to shrink and privatize NYC public library space as "underutilized" a threat to NYPL (Manhattan , Bronx and Staten Island) and BPL (Brooklyn) and possible Queens Libraries:
 Recent news has come out that the private company Spaceworks, created by the Bloomberg administration in the summer of 2012 is decalred to be partnering with the NYPL and BPL with the mission of taking over and privatizing space in NYPL and BPL libraries based on the premise that the space in the libraries, despite greatly increasing use, is "underutilized."  See: Thursday, July 3, 2014, Spaceworks And Its Privatizing Space Grab Of The Libraries.  The two of libraries first announced as guinea pigs for Spaceworks shrinkage are the recentlt renovated Red Hook and Williamsburg libraries.  Spaceworks mission is promoted by the Revson Foundation.  The Revson Foundation funded a recent study by the Center for and Urban Future that concluded that libraries that are only 10,000 square feet should be enlarged.  Notwithstanding, the Red Hook Library is only 7,500 square feet and Spacework was proposing with the BPL to shrink that library by 2,000 square feet down to to only 5,500 square feet.

Spaceworks has been asked to identify what other libraries is it working on plans to shrink in its partnerships with the BPL and NYPL.  Spaceworks has denied, despite its proclaimed partnership with the NYPL, that it has any plans underway to shrink any NYPL libraries in Manhattan, the Bronx or Staten Island and denies that it has any other Brooklyn libraries in its sites to shrink.  It is not clear whether, with the board changes now underway at the Queens library whether Spaceworks will try to operate in Queens as well.    
    •    Libraries in Brooklyn:
The Brooklyn Public Library has a strategic plan that is looking to "leverage" (turn into real estate deals) ALL of the libraries in the system.  The most up-to-date information about libraries being targeted and in the most imminent possible danger comes from a recent thorough review of a decades worth of the BPL's board minutes.   See: Sunday, August 31, 2014, 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.   Based on that review, Citizens Defending Libraries has launched its Citizens Audit and Investigation which includes using the state sunshine laws to obtain more information about all of the following libraries talked about as being part of the BPL real estate strategy:
    •        Brooklyn Heights Library
    •        Pacific Branch
    •        Sunset Park Branch
    •        Red Hook Branch
    •        Williamsburg Branch
    •        Brower Park Library
    •        Midwood Library
    •        Gravesend Library
    •        Clinton Hill Library
    •        McKinley Park Branch and another seven or eight leased libraries being acquired with or without the formal threat of eminent domain. 
 Here is more information:
    •        The Brooklyn Branch library at 280 Cadman Plaza will be closed and shrunk to become a much smaller library in what has been spoken of (internally by library officials) as likely being a forty-story building likely owned, library officials say, in a “Partnership” with Forest City Ratner.  Library officials have indicated they can justify keeping the smaller library open shorter hours.  The current library space, which also hosts the Business and Career library, is 62,000 square feet.  This would be reduced to and orriginall proposed 16,000 square feet (now 21,000 square feet).  Library officials are arguing that the space used by the public would effectively be cut only in half.
    •        The Business and Career library would be booted out of its current and traditional location at the edge of Brooklyn’s Central Business District (at a transportation hub and adjacent to universities).  (This would help the library to keep shorter hours in Brooklyn Heights)  To the extent that Business and Career library continued to exist at all afterwards it would be by virtue of jamming it into (and effectively shrinking) the Main Branch Library in Prospect Heights at Grand Army Plaza.
    •        The Main Brooklyn Library at Grand Army Plaza will be shrunk to the extent that other libraries elsewhere are closed and shrunk and shunted off services get jammed into this library.
    •        The Pacific branch library, (recently renovated), the first Carnegie Building opened in Brooklyn and a proposed landmark that the City Landmark’s commissioner has refused to act on since 2004, would be closed.
    •        There is information coming together from several sources that the Clinton Hill Library, 380 Washington Avenue (at Lafayette Ave, two blocks from Clinton), Brooklyn, NY 11238 is being looked at for sale to a developer.  It is one of the libraries that has been the subject of recent sporadic closures claiming air conditioning or (March 2013) lack of heat.
    •        The Midwood Library was one of the first libraries that a developer made an offer on.  The BPL said it is looking at all possibilities.

    •        The Sunset Park Branch was specifically identified as being a library that would be solf to be turned into a mixed-use property.

    •        The BPL received a developer proposal for the Brower Park Library and asked that it be made more specific.
    •        There is a list of other Brooklyn libraries on the list for development.  Although the Brooklyn Public Library system denies it, libraries on the list were handed out to developers at least as far back as 2007.  (People visiting the Brooklyn Heights library building are being told that the Brooklyn Heights library is the only library affected by the current sell-off and shrinkage plans, information that is obviously incorrect.)
    •        The strategic plan for the Brooklyn Public Library states that the plan is to “leverage” (i.e. “sell”) all of the real estate.  The BPL: “will leverage its over one million square feet of real estate by launching partnerships . . .”
    •        The (Rupert Murdoch-owned) Brooklyn Paper that promotes the interests of the real estate developers ran two articles March 27, 2013.  One was run in lieu of covering of covering a Community Board 5 hearing where the community was out in force strenuously objecting as BPL spokespeople presented their plans to sell the Pacific Branch library.  That article, labeled a "News Analysis" in the print edition of the paper, was comprised of quotes and talking points of the BPL spokesman stating why the library should be sold and why Andrew Carnegie who donated this and other libraries on the condition that they be kept open and maintained would want to see such libraries sold off.  Along with that article the paper ran another article where, according to Curbed, a real estate blog, the “Brooklyn Paper helpfully outlined every at-risk Carnegie branch in the borough.”  Accordingly, that article gives clues to other libraies likely to be put on the block for sale. Another clue to which libraries are likely to be sold are which libraries get reported to have air conditioning problems.  So far no library (going back to Donnell in 2008) has been proposed for sale without citing air conditioning problems, whether that library was recently renovated or not.  A list of libraries with air conditioning problems appeared in the Brooklyn Eagle at the end of the Summer 2012.  Libraries overlapping on these two lists as being in poor condition and having air conditioning problems, in addition to the Brooklyn Heights library and the Pacific Branch Library include also the Clinton Hill Library, 380 Washington Avenue and the Brownsville branch, 61 Glenmore Ave. at Watkins St. Brooklyn, NY 11212.  Other still open Carnegie libraries Brooklyn that the Brooklyn Paper listed as being in "poor condition" were:  Brownsville branch, 61 Glenmore Ave. at Watkins St. Brooklyn, NY 11212, Carroll Gardens branch, 396 Clinton St. @ Union St., Brooklyn, NY 11231, Flatbush branch, 22 Linden Blvd. at Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11226, Arlington branch, 203 Arlington Ave. at Warwick St., Brooklyn, NY 11207, Walt Whitman branch, 93 Saint Edwards St. (between Myrtle and Park Avenues), Brooklyn, NY 11205, Saratoga branch, 8 Thomas S. Boyland St. at "Macon St.", Brooklyn, NY 11233, Leonard branch, 81 Devoe St. at Leonard St., Brooklyn, NY 11215, Eastern Parkway branch, 1044 Eastern Pkwy. at Schenectady Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11213, Washington Irving branch, 360 Irving Ave. (at Woodbine St.), Brooklyn, NY 11237.      
    •    All of the libraries in all of the boroughs affected:
    •        Because the current strategy involves underfunding all of the libraries in the New York City system in order to shake loose and prioritize these real estate deals wherever they be, every library is suffering negative consequences as a result.

    •    Libraries in Queens:
    •        The Queens Library sub-system has so far been the most protective of its libraries.  Some libraries in Queens lease space rather than being in publicly-owned properties so there is little real estate value to trying to sell off those particular libraries (unless there is s a very long-term, low-rent lease).  Still, because the strategy is to underfund all the libraries in the city to shake real estate properties loose from the system, the Queens libraries are also deleteriously affected; the Borough President must divert more discretionary funds in the direction of libraries (making those funds unavailable to the borough for other uses) and those funds are less effective in bringing library services up to an suitable level.
    •        The Elmhurst public library in Queens, which the Historic Districts Council fought with the community to save, was bulldozed.  That property was not sold off to a developer for another use; it only turned into a construction project the appropriateness of which can be investigated.  Alternatives would have included added library space to the existing library off or on site.
    •        According to the New York City Independent Budget Office’s critique of the mayor’s push to drive down funding of the libraries, “The funding fall-off is already taking a toll on the city’s three library systems, particularly the systems in Brooklyn and Queens.” . . .“more than three dozen branch libraries may be closed.”
    •        Here is a link to the HDC campaign to save libraries, which includes libraries in Queens.
    •     Libraries in The Bronx and Staten Island:
    •        The Bronx and Staten Island libraries are part of NYPL subsystem whose board of trustees have focused themselves on a prioritized creation of the real estate deals in Manhattan.  What we are seeing is that the juiciest real estate deals are getting priority, but what we know from the Brooklyn situation is that they are working their way down a list.
    •        Read the section on the Queens libraries about how the entire system is affected.
    •        The Historic Districts council is working to save libraries in the Bronx and Staten Island as well as the other boroughs.  
CONTACT: To contact Citizens Defending Libraries email Backpack362 (at) aol.com.

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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
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