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.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

PHOTO & VIDEO GALLERY: March 29, 2014, 10:00 AM Saturday March for Women and Education Outside The 42nd Street Central Reference Library

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On a rainy Saturday morning, March 29th, Lynn's Kids International Organization, a non-profit organization for the advancement of underprivileged children, and Citizens Defending Libraries, a group fighting to protect New York City libraries, met at 100:00 AM outside of the 42nd Street Library for a short walk, March for Women and Education, asking our elected officials to protect library branches throughout the city - our public treasures.
Videos. . . .

Facebook Video- March 29, 2014, 10:00 AM Saturday March for Women and Education Outside The 42nd Street Central Reference Library- The Raging Grannies Sing and speeches are given, including about fair elections. 18 minutes in total.

Facebook Video- March 29, 2014, 10:00 AM Saturday March for Women and Education Outside The 42nd Street Central Reference Library- A few seconds of "Save Our Libraries" chant.
Facebook Video- March 29, 2014, 10:00 AM Saturday March for Women and Education Outside The 42nd Street Central Reference Library- One minute with Lynn Rosen's "Whahoo!, "Singing In The Ran" and Raging Grannies singing "Library Maids"
Author, artist and roving bookseller of his own book about the plundering of the 42nd Street Central Reference Library: "The Library of Libraries."  More about that books and other books about attacks on the libraries and the banishment of books for children of all ages, see: Wednesday, March 19, 2014, Not THAT Michael White - “Return of the Library Dragon” And Other Books Meant To Save Books and Libraries!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014, New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s Brooklyn Community Forum at Brooklyn Central Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza

Citizens Defending Libraries attended when New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman held his March 24th Brooklyn Community forum.  Very much of interest is Mr. Schneiderman's responsibility for  oversight of nonprofits, including the nonprofits that run our New York City libraries.  There is a new law about this taking effect July 1st.  That oversight function made it more interesting The forum was held in the BPL's Grand Army library.

Here are the flyers CDL distributed during the evening.

This flyer, text repeated below, addressed itself specifically to the AG's oversight of nonprofits and the new law taking effect.
This is a flyer about sell-offs of NYC libraries generally
Here is the text of the flyer concerning Attorney General oversight that was specifically for the evening.

The New York State Attorney General’s Office (its Charities Bureau) oversees the proper conduct of nonprofits in New York State. . . 

. . . .  There is a perception that many of our nonprofits are now running amok.  In February the Wall Street Journal reported:
     . . .  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.
It cited as a prime example how:
    . . . 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. 
Similarly, the Brooklyn Public Library is making it a priority to sell and shrink libraries, getting rid of books and librarians with a focus on real estate deals that benefit developers, NOT the public.

The Nonprofit Revitalization Act has now been signed into law with most of its provisions taking effect July 1, 2014.

The good news is that, according to Attorney General’s Office:
Nonprofit boards will have to perform stricter oversight of insider deals, and the Attorney General will be better able to hold insiders accountable for abuse. The bill requires the adoption of more robust financial oversight requirements, conflict-of-interest policies, and whistleblower policies to protect nonprofit employees from retaliation when they identify wrongdoing.
It is supposed to strengthen the “Attorney General's power to police fraud and abuse” by, among other things, “granting clear power to bring judicial proceedings to unwind interested-party transactions.”

The Attorney General's office didn’t note in its press release for the new act that the law also creates a streamlined sort of safe harbor provision that can be used electively by nonprofits to have the attorney general approve certain sales of assets.

. . . But having the Attorney General’s Office bless questionable transaction early on doesn’t necessarily work to the public’s advantage.  Case in point: Long Island College Hospital’s divestiture of the Donald and Mildred Othmers’ funds.  The Othmers gave a truly spectacular amount of money to LICH.  When that money was being raided from the institution in a sophisticated scheme, the AG’s office (a prior administration) was first requested to bless the money being posted as security without understanding the full implications of doing so.  That early “blessing” has hampered the AG’s office’s ability to now criticize that transaction.
 sign our petition on the web: Citizens Defending Libraries
Here is the Attorney General's flyer for the evening:

The forum was introduced by BPL president Linda Johnson who has been a champion of the sales that are shrinking libraries in the city while getting rid of books and librarians.
Johnson convening the forum
President Johnson then introduced City Councilman Brad lander as her "friend" to say a few words.  Indeed, Lander has been supporting Johnson's proposed sales of libraries.  After Lander spoke, the two sat together.
Lander, introduced by Johnson speaks

At far end of first row, Johnson and Lander sit together.  As these pictures were being taken Josh Nachowitz, BPL spokesperson for the for the library sales removed himself to the back of the room
 Most of the evening was taken up by Schneiderman's AG staff describing their achievements to date.  For instance, work the office has done taking on  the threat of hydrofracking.  Only a little time was left for questions from the forum attendees.  None of the questions submitted with respect to the sale of libraries, public assets or the conduct of the nonprofits in charge of them were answered although some of these questions (see below) were tweeted as the forum was ongoing.  The Attorney General's office promised to follow up with respect to all questions.  (Contact information for those submitting them was on the back of each.)

While no questions were answered during the evening about the sale of public assets like libraries Mr. Schneiderman did respond to one question about the suddenly announced sale of the of Prospect Park Residence a community residence facility for seniors previously known as the Madonna Residences.  That's a privately owned property, although it has gone through serial changes in terms of ownership incarnations, at least some of which may have been intended to clear the way for an eventual unregulated sell off of that real estate.  Said Mr. Schneiderman, without clearly indicating that he thought he knew of a way to say that he thought the sell-off would be illegal:
It is very hard to argue that it is reasonable conduct to tell vulnerable seniors you have 90 days to get out of your homes
At the end of the meeting Councilman Lander who has spoken out critically against the sale of the senior community residences (though not against the sale of libraries) was surrounded by the families and residents who are getting together to fight that sale of the former Madonna Residences.

Tweeted during forum
Tweeted during forum


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

PHOTO GALLERY: March 12, 2014 Rally on Day of NYPL Trustee's Meeting, Plus The ILLUMINATOR Strikes!

Inauspiciously, the weather reports were for rain, a lot of it, right at the time the rally was to take place. . . .

Tweeted: Michael D. D. White- @WhiteMdd- This panoply of protesters was the scene NYPL trustees saw if they didn't slip out the back Wednesday evening. pic.twitter.com/AmGpCM4o44 Facebook. (click on highlighted links to share on social media)
 . . . .  It was the Tuesday after the City Hall budget hearing about libraries where we mobilized people to testify in opposition to the sale and shrinkage of New York City libraries, their deliberate underfunding of the diversion of library funds into real estate boondoggles, the same Tuesday sme of us went up to Albany to talk to legislators about the sell off of libraries and other public assets and the relationship of that to campaign finance reform.

The good news was that we’d done a good job of getting the attention of the press with media advisories and there were stories that the rally outside the NYPL’s trustees meeting was going to take place rain or shine:
•    New York Times: New York Today- New York Today: Let It Rain, March 12, 2014, by Annie Correal

•    ArtFCity: Tomorrow There's a Big Rally to Save the Libraries (Rain or Shine), by Whitney Kimball on March 11, 2014

•    Curbed: Rally to Save NY Public Library; Land For Sale in Bushwick, Tuesday, March 11, 2014, by Zoe Rosenberg

•    Daily News: 'Save Our Stacks!' Activists to protest proposed New York Public Library renovation, March 12, 2014. (Comments possible), BY Beth Stebner
The Daily New article was probably the most fun because, accompanied by a visual “courtesy of the Library Lovers League (identified below), was the first article to inform that “The Illuminator” had struck the night before:
Library Lovers League blasted several images on the landmarked Fifth Ave. Stephen A. Schwarzman building, blaring out messages like, "Save Our Stacks!" "Not For Sale," and another imploring Mayor Bill de Blasio to help save the public library.
For those who didn’t make it to slog out with us in the rain, and for those of us who did and want to reminisce here is a gallery of event photos.  Links are provided to where these photos were "tweeted" or on Facebook should you want to share them that way.  (You can also share this entire page.)

Tweeted: Michael D. D. White- @WhiteMdd- A soggy day in Gotham Town, but the age of miracles hadn't passed- We had a crowd and Bill DB too! pic.twitter.com/P4IijtMMMx Facebook.
Tweeted: Defending Libraries- @DefendLibraries- Bill de Blasio a rainy day (not fair weather) friend, at our protest yesterday against library sales and plunder. pic.twitter.com/cRcXtgVqdM Facebook.
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  THE RIGHT TO YOUR LIBRARIES! http://saveNYPL.org/email-the-mayor  #NYC @midmanhattanlib @nypl pic.twitter.com/8xH6n0wccZ Facebook.
Tweeted: Michael D. D. White- @WhiteMdd-  Don't sell, shrink, underfund our libraries. Bring back the books and librarians!  Facebook.
Tweeted: Defending Libraries- @DefendLibraries- 42nd St: Bill de Blasio AGAIN joins protest on steps against library sales, shrinkages, underfunding, book banishment pic.twitter.com/nScpFFwFFr Facebook.
Tweeted: Michael D. D. White- @WhiteMdd-  Toss out the library trustees and administrators who shrink libraries while saying that that are "expanding" them. Facebook.
This is the picture of "The Illuminator's" work that the Daily News featured in its coverage in advance of the rally.
Tweeted: The Illuminator strikes to save the libraries!!!!! Save NYC's libraries from sale, shrinkage and underfunding! Facebook.
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  SAVE NYPL FROM DEAL-DRUNK TRUSTEES #saveNYPL #SaveOurStacks JOIN US: https://www.facebook.com/notes/library-lovers-league/weds-312-5pm-rally-outside-nypl-trustees-meeting-150-million-in-city-money-at-st/811697052177576 … #nyc pic.twitter.com/HVGCAqNJI9 Facebook.
Tweeted: Defending Libraries- @DefendLibraries- S. Schwarzman, largest realty invest firm head w/ brolly carrier aft NYPL trustee meet: He picks new trustees. Yikes! pic.twitter.com/wiaxmYy1D0 Facebook.
Tweeted: Michael D. D. White- @WhiteMdd-  Real estate mogul talk after NYPL trustee meeting? S. Schwarzman (picking trustees) & Marshall Rose push the DEALS. pic.twitter.com/rGE1TR8Yoa Facebook.
Tweeted: The Illuminator strikes to save the libraries!!!!! Save NYC's libraries from sale, shrinkage and underfunding! Facebook.
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  NOT4SALE @midmanhattanlib @Gothamist On the eve of the NYPL Trustee meeting w @illuminator99 pic.twitter.com/K3AjesHd0z pic.twitter.com/raVXCpqKBL Facebook.
Tweeted: Edward Champion ?@drmabuse Mar 12- "Bring back the books! Bring back the books!" #savenypl rally pic.twitter.com/7Vlkndkv2b.  Facebook.
Tweeted: Mayor de Blasio! Stand with us! NYC's world-class research library is at stake @deBlasioNYC http://saveNYPL.org/email-the-mayor  pic.twitter.com/SQve0oSIEd  Facebook.
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  Inspired by @illuminator99 THIS woman made a sign & showed UP! Rally in the pouring rain! http://saveNYPL.org/email-the-mayor  pic.twitter.com/YORjgXo3Kz Facebook.
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  Chill n rain n crowd gathers while trustees dither inside... #dealdrunktrustees #SAVEOURSTACKS http://saveNYPL.org/email-the-mayor  pic.twitter.com/8wtToDJ8C7 Facebook.
Tweeted: Edward Champion- @drmabuse- De blasio here in cardboard form. pic.twitter.com/ZthEGLr9hB Facebook.
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  Pretty big crowd in a rainy afternoon... Join us? http://saveNYPL.org/email-the-mayor  #dealdrunktrustees #weseegreed pic.twitter.com/aeJdbkelpC Facebook.
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  The Right To Your Libraries. #unGoogleable @NYPL http://www.savenypl.org/email-the-mayor/ … @NYCCouncil @NYCMayorsOffice pic.twitter.com/C8vuQ33pZI Facebook
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  Who's Using Your Money To Destroy Your Books? #NYPL #unGoogleable http://www.savenypl.org/email-the-mayor/ . @NYCCouncil @NYCMayorsOffice pic.twitter.com/0t7xrchTni Facebook.
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  "It's not philanthropy, it's a hostile takeover." #realestateshenanigans @NYPL http://www.savenypl.org/email-the-mayor/ … @NYCCouncil pic.twitter.com/YdwOnLnUHF Facebook.
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  Who Owns Our Books? #unGoogleable #books #realestateshenanigans #NYPL http://www.savenypl.org/email-the-mayor/ … pic.twitter.com/PCupL7hxkH Facebook.
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  We Should Not Settle For This. Really. @NYCCouncil @NYCMayorsOffice #unGoogleable @NYPL http://www.savenypl.org/email-the-mayor/ . pic.twitter.com/skXJ9otfyc Facebook.
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  The Right To Your Libraries. #unGoogleable @NYPL http://www.savenypl.org/email-the-mayor/ . pic.twitter.com/Jn1DyAIKOA Facebook.

Unveiled at the rally: Simon Verity's NEW BOOK!
Tweeted: Simon Verity's illustrated fable skewering NYPL available Crawford Doyle & Rizzoli, ebook 2: Facebook.
Simon Verity was on hand equipped to sell his book

Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  Don't Gut 42nd St Stacks; Support Local Branch Libraries! @NYCMayorsOffice @NYCCouncil http://www.savenypl.org/email-the-mayor/ … pic.twitter.com/r6mHu2RgKp Facebook.
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  Don't Gut Our Libraries. #unGoogleable http://www.savenypl.org/email-the-mayor/ … pic.twitter.com/NmhZLImabm Facebook.
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  Support Our Local Branch Libraries! #unGoogleable #realestateshenanigans @NYPL http://www.savenypl.org/email-the-mayor/ … pic.twitter.com/kSayckmn69 Facebook.
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  The Right To Literacy. Let's see Universal pre-K in our branch libraries! @NYCMayorsOffice @NYCCouncil @UFT #NYC pic.twitter.com/e7fBca9r4s Facebook.
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  We have to wonder if the NYPL Trustees finished up early today to avoid us #justsayin #shameonthem pic.twitter.com/5feDhvWr1e Facebook.
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  THE RIGHT TO THE COMMON GOOD! http://www.savenypl.org/email-the-mayor/ … @GREEDKILLS pic.twitter.com/ucKcmt0Swq Facebook.
Tweeted: Lisa Guido- @lisaguido- The Mayor joined us in spirit. Or cardboard. Have you sent him an email? http://saveNYPL.org/email-the-mayor  #NYC #nypl #libraries pic.twitter.com/AoSE5agvCM Facebook.
Tweeted: saveNYPL-  @saveNYPL- A BIG THANK YOU! To all our supporters who braved yesterday's downpour to rally to @NYPL's defense! photo:@drmabuse pic.twitter.com/VPzL6Fu5FD Facebook
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  Via @NYTMetro: NYC today: Rainy, library advocates to rally 5pm @NYPL, http://nyti.ms/1g8ibbd  http://bit.ly/1cQ4TFJ  pic.twitter.com/oTKZHpWVxD Facebook.
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  Heyyyy Rally to save NYPL WEDS 5PM http://www.artfcity.com/2014/03/11/tomorrow-theres-a-big-rally-to-save-the-libraries-rain-or-shine … http://on.fb.me/1oEXl8y  "Libraries not land grabs" @artfcity pic.twitter.com/OJR7uLRcfk
 Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  #SAVEOURSTACKS #SaveNYPL Email @deBlasioNYC NO CITY $$$ FOR "CENTRAL PLAN" more info: https://www.facebook.com/notes/library-lovers-league/weds-312-5pm-rally-outside-nypl-trustees-meeting-150-million-in-city-money-at-st/811697052177576 … pic.twitter.com/GX6j1LlNr2 Facebook.
Tweeted: LibraryLoversLeague-  @LibraryLoversNY-  BAT SIGNAL OVER GOTHAM! @Gothamist @deBlasioNYC #SAVEOURSTACKS On the eve of the NYPL Trustee meeting @illuminator99 pic.twitter.com/K3AjesHd0z Facebook.
Tweeted: saveNYPL- @saveNYPL- MT: @GraysonEarle THE @MidManhattanLib IS NOT FOR SALE! Save the #NYPL Join us: http://www.savenypl.org/rally-at-the-42nd-street-library-wednesday-march-12-and-city-council-hearing-march-11 . @illuminator99 pic.twitter.com/AKXtpoE8eh Facebook.

Here is a “Reluctant Habits” (tweeted) write-up of the rally with some really fun embedded audios you can click to listen to, including some singing by the “The Raging Grannies”: Save NYPL: How an Organized Movement to Stop the Destruction of Libraries is Being Ignored by Mayor de Blasio,  by Edward Champion. . . .

. . .  I am not sure the title of the article correctly conveys the situation.  I think that Mayor de Blasio is paying attention to those of us opposing the destruction of libraries.  When he last stood with us on the steps of the 42nd Street Central Reference Library he called for a halt to the sales.  The day before the rally he said that he stand was the same as before.  The news is good so long as the mayor's spine stays stiff.