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.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Citizens Defending Libraries Questions For Candidates For New York City Offices

Below are questions (being posted and promulgated as of August 13, 2013) that Citizens Defending Libraries is requesting candidates for New York City political offices to answer.  The answers they provide will be linked to below.  Information will also be provided below respecting any candidates that are not providing answers to these questions.

* * * *
Many of us feel that libraries provide more value to New Yorkers than just about any other institution.  More people visited public libraries in New York than every major sports team and every major cultural institution combined.  Libraries are an almost infinitesimal fraction of New York City’s budget.
“Last year our city’s libraries helped 370,000 people find jobs; hosted 40 million visitors; provided New Yorkers with more than 8.7 million public use computer sessions; taught tens and tens of thousands of children and adults to read and new immigrants to speak English; and returned $6 value for every $1 allocated from city funds.”
Joanne King, Director - Communications Queens Library

    Citizens Defending Libraries Questions For Candidates For New York City Offices

1.    New York City is growing (including in wealth) and public library usage is up very substantially, 40% programmatically and 59% in terms of circulation, yet libraries are currently being funded at their lowest level in years, a drastic reduction from the past.  Do you favor this low level of funding or believe that funding should be restored at least to, or above, the level that libraries were funded in the past?

2.    Are you in favor of or do you oppose the sale of libraries, public assets of the library system and the reductions of library space (including such sales and reductions as have been proposed by the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library)?  Please explain.

3.    More specifically, are you opposed to, in favor of, or neutral about the following proposed library sales, shrinkages and consolidating of library assets (Please explain and amplify your stated position–Note that one of the sales and reductions has already occurred– Donnell– while others are proposed and/or in progress):
    a.    The Donnell Library at 53rd Street across from MoMA between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
    b.    SIBIL, the Science, Industry and Business Library, (its sale is considered to be part of the NYPL’s “CLP,” Central Library Plan)
    c.    Mid-Manhattan (its sale is also considered to be part of the CLP)
    d.    Demolition and removal of research stacks underneath the Central Reference Library at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue (its sale is also considered to be part of the CLP).
    e.    The NYPL’s “Central Library Plan” (involving the consolidating shrinkage of the libraries noted above)
    f.    The Brooklyn Heights Library (the operations of which function on a combined and integrated basis with the Business and Career Library in the building)
    g.    The Pacific Branch Library at 4th Avenue and Pacific in Brooklyn
    h.    The Clinton Hill Library in Brooklyn
    i.    All other libraries in Brooklyn that the BPL might consider similarly selling or leveraging as a stated part of the strategic plan it published
    j.    Other libraries NYPL might decide to similarly sell and shrink, such as libraries in Harlem, North Manhattan, Staten Island or other parts of Manhattan or the Bronx.
    NOTE: The Central Library Plan involving Mid-Manhattan, SIBL and the Central Reference Library stack destruction involves reducing more than 380,000 square feet of library space to 80,000.  The Donnell sale for shrinkage and redevelopment reduced the 97,000 square foot library to 28,000 square feet of mostly underground, mostly bookless space that won’t be available until at least 2015, eight years after sale of the library was announced .  The planned sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library reduces about 62,000 square feet of space to 20,000 square feet (originally proposed to be only 15,000 sq ft), as much of a quarter of the reduced space being placed underground.

4.    Many people consider it an indication of a problematic mind-set on the part of decision makers that libraries are being sold for what they believe are very inadequate prices: The 97,000 sq. ft. Donnell Library, much of it recently renovated, was sold to net the NYPL only $39 million while the penthouse in the fifty-story building replacing it is on the market for $60 million and SIBL was recently completed using substantial public funds for $100 million but 87% of it was just sold for $60.8 million.  Are you opposed to the sale and shrinkage of library assets in general or do you accept sale and shrinkage if you consider that ‘an adequate price’ is obtained for the sale?  If the latter; please describe what you believe to be an ‘adequate price’?

5.    Are you opposed to the sale of library space and assets in general or would you accept the sale of libraries if they were not being shrunk (or were being increased in size) and you considered that ‘an adequate price’ was being obtained for the sale?  Again, if the latter please describe what you believe to be an ‘adequate price.’  Alternatively, if you believe that the presumption should always be that libraries should not be available for sale or redevelopment because of such things as the disruptions and hardship caused and the way a generation of children and other will be significantly deprived of services, please elaborate upon this point of view. 

6.    There is now a demand for internet and electronic services at the library.  Although a Pew poll shows that younger readers strongly prefer physical books, ebooks now make up 20% of the book market.  In some cases libraries are the only place to access certain electronic data and services (often requiring assistance of a librarian to do so).  Most people believe that libraries should now provide computer and electronic services (“bridging the digital divide” for those needing such service), which may require even more space.  Notwithstanding, do you believe that there is an adequate justification for NYC libraries to be effecting substantial reductions in the inventories of physical books available for those visiting at libraries, even in the face of increased demand?  Please explain your position.

7.    Do you believe the libraries should be reducing professional library staff, or increasing such staff of at least maintaining the level of such professionals available to assist the public?

8.    Some believe that professionally trained librarians are often in the best position to comment knowledgeably on the directions in which the New York City library system is being steered, but actions are being taken to silence such staff and prevent them from commenting, including directives to staff, loyalty oaths and “nondisparagement” (confidentiality) agreements the NYPL wants departing librarians to sign in return for severance.  Do you condone such silencing policies or feel they should be considered to be contrary to public policy?

9.    Do you believe that the currently ongoing sell-offs of libraries and shrinkage of library space should be investigated and/or audited by appropriate government authorities?  Please elaborate.

* * * *
* * * *

In order of priority of focus, Citizens Defending Libraries is asking candidates for the following New York City Office to respond to these questions:
    1.    Mayor
    2.    Comptroller
    3.    Public Advocate
    4.    Borough Presidents, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island
    5.    City Council
Links to their responses will appear below:

    1.    Mayor
        a.    Bill De Blasio (D)
        b.    Bill Thompson (D)
        c.    Christine Quinn (D)
        d.    John Liu (D)
        e.    Sal Albanese (D)
        f.    Adolfo CarriĆ³n Jr. (D)
        g.    Anthony Wiener (D)
        h.    Anthony Gronowicz (G)
        i.    Randy Credico (D)
        j.    Erick Salgado, (R)
        k.    Joe Lhota (R)
        l.    George McDonald (R)
        m.    John Catsimatidis (R)
    2.    Comptroller
        a.    Eliot Spitzer (D)
        b.    Scott Stringer (D)
        c.    John Burnett (R)
    3.    Public Advocate
        a.    Tish James (D)
        b.    Daniel Squadron (D)
        c.    Cathy Guerriero (D)
        d.    Reshma Saujani (D)
        e.    Sidique Wai (D)
        f.    Thomas Robert Stevens (R)
        g.    Joiner-Eiland, Tyrrell L
        h.    James C. Lane (G)
        i.    Liatos, Deborah
    4.    Borough Presidents
        a.    Manhattan Borough President
            i.    Julie Menin (D)
            ii.    Gale Brewer (D)
            iii.    Robert Jackson (D)
            iv.    Jessica Lappin (D)
            v.    Casavis, David B
            vi.    Comrie, Leroy G
            vii.    Lobman, Sara
        b.    Brooklyn Borough President
            i.    Eric Adams (D)
            ii.    John F Gangemi
        c.    Queens Borough President
            i.    Arcabascio, Aurelio A
            ii.    Tony Avella
            iii.    Everly D Brown
            iv.    Seth Galinsky,
            v.    Melinda Katz
            vi.    Peter F Vallone, Jr.
        d.    Bronx Borough President
            i.    Roger Calero
            ii.    Ruben Diaz Jr.
            iii.    Mark Escoffery-Bey
            iv.    Carl L Lundgren,
        e.    Staten Island Borough President
            i.    Henry J Bardel
            ii.    Louis L Liedy Jr
            iii.    Richard Luthmann,
            iv.    James S Oddo
    5.    City Council:
        a.    Manhattan- Districts 1-10
            i.    District 1
                (1)    Chin, Margaret S
                (2)    Rajkumar, Jenifer
            ii.    District 2
                (1)    Del Rio, Richard
                (2)    Mendez, Rosie
            iii.    District 3
                (1)    Johnson, Corey D
                (2)    Kurland, Yetta
            iv.    District 4
                (1)    Garodnick, Daniel R
                (2)    Jnane, Helene
            v.    District 5
                (1)    Ed Hartzog (D)
                (2)    Ben Kallos (D)
                (3)    Micah Kellner (D)
                (4)    David Garland (R)
                (5)    Kallos, Benjamin J
                (6)    Minerva, Domenico G
            vi.    District 6
                (1)    Biberaj, Ken
                (2)    Braunstein, Aaron
                (3)    Cooper, Debra
                (4)    Gotbaum, Noah E
                (5)    Landis, Marc A
                (6)    Rosenthal, Helen K
                (7)    Siracuse, Thomas E
                (8)    Wymore, Mel
            vii.    District 7
                (1)    Barksdale, Alicia D
                (2)    Gonzalez, Christina E
                (3)    Johnson, Joyce S
                (4)    Lantigua, Manuel
                (5)    Levine, Mark D
                (6)    Lyles, Gary T
                (7)    Otto, Mark T
                (8)    Powell, Gerard D
                (9)    Ramadan, Zead
                (10)    Sasscer-Burgos, David S
                (11)    Tejada, Luis M
                (12)    Vargas, Ruben Dario
            viii.    District 8
                (1)    Cardona, Ralina M
                (2)    Gardner, Sean P
                (3)    Goodwin, Gwen
                (4)    Guerrero, Ariel E
                (5)    Humphreys, Tamika L
                (6)    Mark-Viverito, Melissa
                (7)    Santos, Edward N
            ix.    District 9
                (1)    Dickens, Inez E
                (2)    Morgan, Vincent S
            x.    District 10
                (1)    Castellanos, Francesca M
                (2)    Estrella, Miguel
                (3)    Pahaham, Cheryl A
                (4)    Rodriguez, Ydanis A
        b.    Bronx- Districts 11-18
            i.    District 11
                (1)    Cohen, Andrew J
                (2)    Keeling, Cheryl
                (3)    Reynolds, John H
                (4)    Stanton, Cliff I
            ii.    District 12
                (1)    Archer, Trevor
                (2)    Edie, Lenford
                (3)    Johnson, Pamela A
                (4)    King, Andrew L
                (5)    Oloruntoba (Toba), Adeyemi L
            iii.    District 13
                (1)    Schweizer, Raphael
                (2)    Vacca, James
            iv.    District 14
                (1)    Cabrera, Fernando
                (2)    Vigueras, Jessica D
            v.    District 15
                (1)    Agosto, Kenneth G
                (2)    Alvarez, Albert
                (3)    Batista, Raquel E
                (4)    Bauza, Joel M
                (5)    Rivera, Joel R
                (6)    Thompkins, Cynthia
                (7)    Torres, Ritchie
            vi.    District 16
                (1)    Alvarez, Pedro
                (2)    Berkley, Carlton
                (3)    Diallo, Ahmadou T
                (4)    Gibson, Vanessa L
                (5)    Johnson, Daryl L
                (6)    Muhammed, Naaimat
                (7)    Newsome, Walter L
                (8)    Omotosho, Bola
                (9)    Sierra, Carlos M
            vii.    District 17
                (1)    Arroyo, Maria
                (2)    Pabon, Julio
                (3)    Velez, Jose
            viii.    District 18
                (1)    Moore, William R
                (2)    Nestler, Walter G
                (3)    Palma, Annabel
        c.    Queens- Districts 19-32
            i.    District 19
                (1)    Duane, John F
                (2)    Graziano, Paul D
                (3)    Saffran, Dennis J
                (4)    Shafran, Austin I
                (5)    Vallone, Paul A
                (6)    Voskerichian, Chrissy
            ii.    District 20
                (1)    Chou, Evergreen C
                (2)    Hahn, Sunny
                (3)    Koo, Peter A
            iii.    District 21
                (1)    Ferreras, Julissa
            iv.    District 22
                (1)    Ciafone, John J
                (2)    Constantinides, Costa G
                (3)    De Stefano, Danielle M
                (4)    Kann, Gerald F
                (5)    Peterson, Daniel P
                (6)    Prentzas, Constantinos
                (7)    Serpe, Lynne
            v.    District 23
                (1)    Weprin, Mark S
            vi.    District 24
                (1)    Blishteyn, Alexander
                (2)    Lancman, Rory I
                (3)    Rahman, Mujib U
                (4)    Veras, Andrea M
            vii.    District 25
                (1)    Dromm, Daniel P
            viii.    District 26
                (1)    Jimmy Van Bramer (D)
            ix.    District 27
                (1)    Caughman, Manuel
                (2)    Flowers, Joan E
                (3)    Mays, Gregory
                (4)    Miller, I. Daneek
                (5)    Peeden, Sondra H
                (6)    Vanel, Clyde
            x.    District 28
                (1)    Evans, Eugen W
                (2)    Kayode, David B
                (3)    Marthone, Joseph R
                (4)    Payne, Breina
                (5)    Powell, Hettie V
                (6)    Wills, Ruben W
                (7)    Winslow, Christina
            xi.    District 29
                (1)    Koslowitz, Karen
                (2)    Torodash, Jon
            xii.    District 30
                (1)    Caruana, Craig N
                (2)    Crowley, Elizabeth S
            xiii.    District 31
                (1)    Brown, Ricardo A
                (2)    Duncan, Michael R
                (3)    Murray, Scherie S
                (4)    Richards, Donovan J
            xiv.    District 32
                (1)    Ruiz, William
                (2)    Simon, Lew M
                (3)    Ulrich, Eric A
        d.    Brooklyn- Districts 33-48
            i.    District 33
                (1)    Stephen Levin (D)
                (2)    Stephen Pierson (D)
            ii.    District 34
                (1)    Lopez, Vito J
                (2)    Reynoso, Antonio
                (3)    Santiago, Gladys
                (4)    Soto, Humberto
            iii.    District 35
                (1)    Olanike Alabi (D)
                (2)    Lauriw Cumbo (D)
                (3)    Ede Fox (D)
                (4)    Frank Hurley (D)
                (5)    Jelani Mashariki (D)
                (6)    Jesse Hamilton (D)
            iv.    District 36
                (1)    Cornegy, Jr., Robert E
                (2)    Foy, Kirsten J
                (3)    Swiney, Reginald
                (4)    Taylor, Akiel B
                (5)    Tillard, Conrad
                (6)    Waterman, Robert M
            v.    District 37
                (1)    Council, Kimberly N
                (2)    Espinal, Jr., Rafael L
                (3)    Mateo, Heriberto
                (4)    Sheikh, Helal A
            vi.    District 38
                (1)    Gonzalez, Sara M
                (2)    Menchaca, Carlos
            vii.    District 39
                (1)    Brad Lander (D)
            viii.    District 40
                (1)    Eugene, Mathieu
                (2)    Grant, John E
                (3)    Kinard, Sylvia G
                (4)    Thomas, Saundra P
            ix.    District 41
                (1)    Daniel, Kathleen
                (2)    Jackson, Al
                (3)    Kinard, Stanley
                (4)    Mealy, Darlene
                (5)    Wright, Byron J
            x.    District 42
                (1)    Banks, Christopher W
                (2)    Barron, Inez D
                (3)    Henry, Sean K
                (4)    Lucas, Nikki I
                (5)    Miles, Leon B
                (6)    Powell, Regina
                (7)    Whitehead, John C
            xi.    District 43
                (1)    Dwyer, Patrick
                (2)    Gentile, Vincent J
                (3)    Quaglione, John F
            xii.    District 44
                (1)    Flusberg, Jacob M
                (2)    Greenfield, David G
                (3)    Hayon, Joseph
            xiii.    District 45
                (1)    King, Erlene J
                (2)    Similien, Jean H
                (3)    Williams, Godwin
                (4)    Williams, Jumaane D
            xiv.    District 46
                (1)    Maisel, Alan
                (2)    Narcisse, Mercedes
                (3)    Testaverde, Anthony
            xv.    District 47
                (1)    Dobrin, Todd A
                (2)    Lisyanskiy, John
                (3)    Mobley, Connis M
                (4)    Sullivan, Andrew J
                (5)    Treyger, Mark
            xvi.    District 48
                (1)    Bhushan, Natraj S
                (2)    Deutsch, Chaim M
                (3)    Kagan, Ari
                (4)    Lotovsky, Alexander L
                (5)    Oberman, Igor
                (6)    Scavo, Theresa R
                (7)    Storobin, David
        e.    Staten Island- Districts 49-51
            i.    District 49
                (1)    Macron, Mark A
                (2)    Rose, Deborah
            ii.    District 50
                (1)    Giovinazzo, Lisa E
                (2)    Mancuso, John
                (3)    Matteo, Steven
                (4)    Mirocznik, Mendy
            iii.    District 51
                (1)    Ignizio, Vincent M
                (2)    Walsh, Christopher

1 comment:

  1. If it wasn't for our Libraries I don't know how I would've gotten by in College. It was literary my home away from home. I used to do a who.e lot of research @ the 42 Street Library. The staff was always pleasant and willing to patiently go out of their way to assist me! Our children as well as adults need Libraries! It is a safe haven for the public to relax and enjoy reading which is one of the crucial things we have left. I remember being taught the reading is fundamental!