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, February 14, 2015

“Fully stocked and overflowing shelves of children books”?- The Brooklyn Heights Library According to BPL's Taina Evans. Really?

“Fully stocked and overflowing shelves of children books,” according to BPL's
Taina Evans. 
“Fully stocked and overflowing shelves of children books”?  Really?

This is a picture taken 2/9/2015 of shelves in the Brooklyn Heights Library children’s section that Taina Evans, the BPL’s Clinton Hill Library Information Supervisor weighed in on 2/14/2015 to describe in the following way:
“Brooklyn Heights children room has and continue to have fully stocked and overflowing shelves of children books and related materials.”
Ms Evans was reacting, she said, to correct what she said was “false” information in a Citizens Defending Library Media Advisory about a rally to protect city libraries, see:  MEDIA ADVISORY (& Press Release): Library Lovers Gather on Valentine's Day to Speak and Sing of Aching Hearts.  

One way you can tell that these perfectly empty, not “fully stocked and overflowing shelves” are in the children’s section of the Brooklyn Heights Library are by the colorful children’s stickers adorning the shelves.
Ms. Evans sent her email accusation that Citizens Defending Libraries was misinforming the public to the  New York Black Librarians Caucus - NYBLC Google Group Listserv (nyblc@googlegroups.com).  (And, yes, the underfunding of libraries has a racial issue component to it, see: Tuesday, May 14, 2013, A Consideration of Race, Equality, Opportunity and Democracy As NYC Libraries Are Sold And The Library System Shrunk And Deliberately Underfunded.)

But does Ms. Evens really want to quibble about whether these books are gone from the library NOW, when it is undisputed that the BPL plans to sell and drastically shrink the Brooklyn Heights Library SOON, in which case there will then be no room for the books?  Books take up real estate and what we have seen is that library administration officials have preceded their plans to sell and shrink libraries by emptying the shelves of the libraries targeted for shrinkage.  See: Saturday, September 14, 2013, Empty Bookshelves As Library Officials Formulate A New Vision of Libraries: A Vision Where The Real Estate Will Be Sold Off.

Ms. Evans assured those she emailed that the Williamsburg Library is not to be worried about, but at the same time the top floor of that library (used for Children’s programs) is being handed off to the private Spaceworks firm in a space-shrinking move its shelves are empty.  Pictures are available:  Monday, January 26, 2015,  The Library of the Future Envisioned- "The 21st Century Library". . . And Beyond- Questions Floating In Science Fiction's Crystal Ball.
Here in the Williamsburg Library these perfectly empty shelves are not in the second floor given away to Spaceworks (no books there anymore), but in the mezzanine, i.e. more missing books.
Similarly, Ms. Evans assures that there should be no concerns about the future disposition of the Clinton Hill Library where she now works.  It is true that in divide and conquer fashion, as is the strategy of the Brooklyn Public Library and library administration officials the BPL has said that it has backed off from plans to redevelop the Clinton Hill Library.   Yet, plans to redevelop that library into a multi-use real estate development were previously in the real estate press.  The reason now given why the BPL has backed off on redeveloping the Clinton Hill Library is that the current zoning will not support a large enough new development.  That notwithstanding, there have been recent forums promoted by library administration officials with open discussion and presentations about telling the public (in a “placating” manner) that they will be allowed to have better libraries if the public will first agree to upzonings and development the public does not otherwise want.

Ms. Evans says that she appreciates the passion of Citizens Defending Libraries, a deference it is now standard for library administration officials to offer, but suggests that Citizens Defending Libraries is misguided and “responsible for causing confusion and mass hysteria.”

Ms. Evans has worked as a “Digital Information Specialist” and as “Dynamic Advocacy Liaison for BPL.”  In her email she speaks of her “recent promotion” by the BPL to “assistant branch manager at Clinton Hill.”  We know many librarians working at the BPL disagree with Ms. Evans about the direction that libraries are taking.  Librarians whose thoughts about what is happening with the contraction of our library system differ from Ms. Evans and who disagree with the BPL may not be similarly subject to promotion.

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