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, July 12, 2013

PHOTOS & VIDEO & MORE- First half of July 2013: Two lawsuits against the Central Library Plan, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio Comes Out Against CLP

De Blasio: Halt NYC Library Sales Until Properly Reviewed

(View above directly in YouTube for best viewing.)

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio stands with Citizens Defending Libraries.  Right to left: Michael Hiller attorney in Citizens Defending Libraries lawsuit, Carolyn McIntyre and Michael D. D. White, co-founders of  Citizens Defending Libraries, Bill de Blasio

•        Wall Street Journal: Library Puts Renovation Plan on Pause, by Jennifer Maloney, July 12, 2013

•        New York Times: Public Advocate Questions Library Plan to Renovate Fifth Avenue Branch, by Robin Pogrebin, July 12, 2013
•        Library Journal: New York Public Library Agrees in Court to Delay Central Library Plan, by Gary Price on July 12, 2013

•        Library Journal: Second Suit Filed to Halt NYPL Central Renovation, by Meredith Schwartz, July 11, 2013

•        Wall Street Journal: Library's Plan to Remove Stacks Hit With Another Suit, by Jenifer Maloney
The Wall Street Journal, July 10, 2013

•        New York Times: New York Public Library Is Sued Over Book Plan, by Robin Pogrebin, July 10, 2013

•       New York Post: Real-estate fiction- NY Public Library?s risky scheme, by Nicole Gelinas, July 7, 2013

•        Wall Street Journal: Lawsuit Filed to Stop New York Public Library Renovation, by Jennifer, July 4, 2013

•        New York Times: Opponents Sue to Block New York Public Library Renovation Plan, Patrica Cohen, July 4, 2013
 •        Park Slope Food Coop Linwaiters Gazzette: Citywide Sell-Off and Shrinkage of Libraries: Brooklyn Libraries to Be Sold Like Manhattan’s Donnell, by Mary Ann Fastook, July 11, 2013
 •        The Huffington Post (Huffpost New York): NYC Mayoral Candidates on the Central Library Plan, by Susan Bernofsky, 07/15/2013
•        The Leonard Lopate Show: The NYPL Renovation Controversy, Tuesday, July 16, 2013.  The New York Public Library’s plan to renovate its Fifth Avenue building, which includes removing research stacks, has been met with criticism. Some opponents of the project filed a lawsuit to stop the project. Scott Sherman, contributing writer for the Nation, and David Levering Lewis, professor of history at NYU who is part of the law suit, and or New York Times writer Michael Kimmelman, talk about the controversial New York Public Library renovation.

We invited Anthony Marx, president and CEO of the NYPL, to join the conversation, but he was unable to be on the show today. He'll be on July 24th to discuss the renovation project.

DeDlasio: latest public statement from the Public Advocate website.

De Blasio Decries New York Public Library Renovation Plans and Sale of Two Midtown Libraries

Public Advocate’s Letter
July 12, 2013

Hon. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

Dear Mayor Bloomberg,

I am writing to express my deep concern over the proposed changes to the City’s library systems in Manhattan and Brooklyn. I am calling on the City to halt the New York Public Library’s plans at the Central Library, and for a thorough, independent cost audit and review of the proposed project. In addition, I am calling for a reconsideration of the Brooklyn Public Library’s plans for the Brooklyn Heights and Pacific branches until a similar review can be completed.

The City’s three public library systems are critical public cultural institutions and have served our City well – supporting scholars and independent researchers, providing resources and services for immigrants and job-seekers, and serving as an intellectual home and refuge for life-long learners and avid readers. Over the past 12 years, these institutions have faced budget cuts and public divestment, struggled to meet operating costs, forced to reduce hours and services, and suffered from hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance on aging air conditioners, boilers, computers and roofs. But these fiscal challenges are not a rationale to engage in drastic measures – if anything, they underscore the need for prudence, frugality and caution.

The “Central Library Plan,” which involves a $150 million in dedicated City funds, would close and sell off the Mid-Manhattan Library and the Science, Industry, and Business Library, consolidating operations at the crown jewel of the New York library system – the Fifth Avenue Central Library of the New York Public Library. The plan involves a dramatic alteration by architect Norman Foster and the relocation of a substantial portion of the site’s distinguished research stacks.

The NYPL claims this renovation would cost $300 million and save the system substantial funds in the long run. But recent testimony by Tony Marx, President of the New York Public Library, suggested this estimate has not been corroborated by independent sources, and that the figure is preliminary. Outside critics have identified the substantial engineering challenges associated with the proposed renovation and are skeptical that the plan’s $300 million price tag wouldn’t grow much larger, potentially catastrophically so. The City should immediately halt all plans to sell Mid-Manhattan Library and the Science, Industry, and Business Library to developers until a thorough, independent, and publicly disclosed assessment is completed. This review should evaluate the complete financial risks associated with the current plan, and seriously consider alternative ways to use City funds to ensure the preservation of the NYPL’s valuable collection stored at the Central Library and preserve the Mid-Manhattan branch as a functioning library. In the words of the New York Time’s architecture critic Michael Kimmelman, “the last thing [library officials] want to be remembered for is trashing their landmark building and digging a money pit.”

Similarly, the Brooklyn Public Library system has explored the option of selling the Brooklyn Heights and Pacific Street branches to developers in order to raise money to support the system and alleviate the need to make repairs at those sites. These sales – which would turn over public land permanently to private parties – should not be rushed through in the waning days of the Bloomberg administration. The Brooklyn Public Library needs money, and a reasonable and sensitive plan involving the retention of community library space and partial redevelopment might be worth consideration. But a much more thorough review is needed. We need to ensure we are driving the hardest bargain possible with the developers and maximizing the public’s return on the land.

Thank you for your attention in these matters,

Bill de Blasio
Public Advocate for the City of New York

Cc: Tony Marx, President and CEO of the New York Public Library
Linda Johnson, President of the Brooklyn Public Library

De Blasio Decries New York Public Library Renovation Plans & Sale of Two Midtown Libraries

For more information about the important and influential hearings Mr. de Blasio refers to, Assembly Committee hearings held by Assemblyman Micah Kellner on June 27, 2013 go here: Testimony By Citizens Defending Libraries At June 27, 2013 State Assembly Committee Hearing On Selling New York City Libraries.

For information about how the New York City Comptroller has also decried the sell-off of libraries for real estate deals participating in Citizens Defending Libraries Library Protection Week events held in April go here: PHOTO GALLERY- CDL's Library Protection Week.
Here is the link to the Park Slope Food Co-op Linewaiters Gazzette which has a full  page article on the libraries, page 6 by CDLer Mary Ann Fastook
Dropbox link for access to legal papers filed with court for the second lawsuit, the one with Citizens Defending Libraries as one of the Plaintiffs.

Citizens Defending Libraries, et al v. NYPL, et al Complaint Filed 7/10/2013.

Edmund Morris Affidavit

Analyn Swan Affidavit

Christabel Gough Affidavit

Charles Warren, Architect, Affidavit

Midred Schmertz, Architect, Affidavit

Memorandum of Law in Support of Order To Show Cause

Order To Show Cause

Affirmation of Attorney Michael Hiller in Support of OTSC

Exhibits to Complaint

Exhibits 1-14 to the Order To Show Cause