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.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Action Steps You Can Take Including Contacting Elected and Other Public Officials

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

The petition will be delivered to the following public officials in public events which you may participate in* and which we will invite the press can cover:
•    Mayor Michael R Bloomberg,
•    City Council Speaker Christine Quinn,
•    NYC Comptroller John C. Liu,
•    Public Advocate Bill de Blasio,
•    Trustees of New York Public Library
•    Trustees of Brooklyn Public Library
•    Trustees of Queens Public Library
•    Stephen Levin, City Council Member (Mr. Levin is the City Councilman for the 33rd City Council District in whose district are two the libraries two of the libraries highest on the BPL’s priority list to sell to developers.  Both are next to Forest City Ratner properties and the BPL is saying that it may enter into- developer-driven-  private-public “partnerships” with Ratner despite that firm's notorious history and expertise in abusing such relationships to maximize costs to the public.  Mr. Levin was one of the first elected officials who stressed to us how important it is for us to organize.)
(* The following page will have updating information about events and meetings you can participate in to coordinate, share information, discuss strategic next steps, canvass, etc: )

There will be city-wide elections, including most importantly for mayor, this November so we believe that with everyone's support our campaign will be very effective.

In addition to supporting this petition by encouraging additional signers (by sending the petition to your friends and passing it along through social media like Facebook and Twitter) you can do even more to support this cause by contacting the public officials directly.

What To Call Public Officials About

You can call and e-mail them to tell them that you want them to endorse and support the goals of this campaign.  You can be even more effective if you ask them when you contact them to inform you what they are committing to, now in the short term and for the long term.  You can then be even more effective by reporting back to us the positions they are taking (or failing to take) by contacting us or by posting that information as a comment on this page.  (See below.)

We can offer questions to ask, like the following (you may have your own to suggest):
    •    Do you support a moratorium on the creation of real estate deals through the selling off of library property until the New York City libraries are all properly funded, which would mean rehiring all-laid off staff, restoration of full library hours, restoration of libraries being open Sunday.

    •    Do you oppose a moratorium on the sell-offs of any library real estate (including the sales currently proposed in Brooklyn and the Central Library plan in Manhattan) at very least until such time as those involved in formulation of such deals display a different mind-set, which means community decision-making about what is desired, no shrinkage of the library system and now prioritizing timing (rushing deals through) and benefits for the sake of the real estate industry.

    •    Do you oppose shrinkage of the New York City’s library systems as is currently being done?

    •    Will you commit to use the city ULURP process under the city charter (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) to oppose and prevent any sale of city-owned library sites as part of schemes that shrink the library system (including the sales currently proposed in Brooklyn and the Central Library plan in Manhattan)?

    •    Do you oppose the libraries' use of private-public partnerships (that become developer-driven and can be readily abused by companies expert in doing so, like Forest City Ratner) when library property is redeveloped?

    •    Do you oppose destruction and sale of irreplaceable assets, crown jewels of the library system like the research stacks that make the 42 Street library the research library it should be?

    •    Do you oppose wholesale sell-offs of libraries going on simultaneously?

    •    Do you oppose rushed and premature closing of libraries as occurred when Donnell was closed in 2008?

    •    Do you oppose the withholding of vital and core city services like libraries (and schools) as hostages in order to get developments approved?

    •    Do you support a thorough public review process, including a long lead time and sufficient advance warning when existing libraries are proposed to be decommissioned and replaced?
     •   Are you calling for investigation and audit of these library system deals?
When contacting public officials, do not let anyone tell you that the selling of libraries creates money for the library system.  That’s one of the problems: It doesn’t and it can’t- That money typically goes to the city, which has already established the policy of withholding it.  That’s what we are determined to change.  (Even in the case of certain libraries the NYPL actually owns, sale proceeds can't be counted upon for operations and the city can cut by comparable amounts.  Federal and state funds also went toward the original purchase of certain of those libraries.)

In relative terms, the amount of money such sales can bring into the city is a pittance.

The amount required to begin properly funding libraries again is also a pittance relative to other amounts spent in the city.  From the Center For An Urban Future report on libaray usage we know: “More people visited public libraries in New York than every major sports team and every major cultural institution combined.”  Yet, we spend far more as a city to subsidize those other things.

Libraries are an important part of the tax base and a stable economy, providing jobs, community space and serving as buffer against economic downturn.  Even if it is decided that some libraries, sometimes should occasionally be selected to be sold and replaced to create increased density, enlarging the city to add to the tax base, we then need a larger not smaller library system as a result.

Public Officials To Contact

In addition to contacting those public officials on the following list it is important to contact your City Council member.  There are 31 City Council members.  You can find out who your City Council Member is and how to contact them by going here: Find Your City Council Member.

We suggest also contacting the following public officials. Some contact information is provided for public officials.  For others (like Mayor Bloomberg, who make contacting them difficult) click on the links to go to the appropriate contact sites.
   •     Officials for all of New York City
   •    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

   •    Public Advocate Bill de Blasio
(212) 669-7250

   •    NYC Comptroller John C. Liu
Community Action Center
(212) 669-3916

   •    City Council Speaker Christine Quinn
(212) 788-7210

   •    City Council Member Stephen Levin
District Office Phone

   •    City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer
Committees For Cultural Affairs, Libraries & International Intergroup Relations
District 26
District Office Phone 718-383-9566
   •    Brooklyn Library System:
   •    Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz
(718) 802-3700

    •    Linda E. Johnson, President & CEO,  Board of Trustees Brooklyn Library System
   •    Queens System:
   •    Board Secretary, Queens Public Libary Board of Trustees
Gabriel Taussig (212) 356-2010

   •    Queens Borough President Helen Marshall
   •    Manhattan Bronx and Staten Island System:
   •    New York Public Library System President
Anthony W. Marx, President

   •    Manhattan Borough President, Scott M. Stringer

   •    Office of the Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

   •    Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro
In writing letters to politicians, you may find it easy and useful to adapt some of the points made in the March 8, 2013 letters of Citizens Defending Libraries testimony found here: Testimony By Citizens Defending Libraries At March 8, 2013 City Council Committee Hearing On Library Budget Issues.   At this time it is important when writing to politicians to call for investigation and audit of the library systems in regard to these proposed real estate deals.

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 link below takes you to where you may sign the petition:
Save New York City Libraries From Bloomberg Developer Destruction 


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