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, December 8, 2015

MEDIA ADVISORY- City Council Votes On Library Sell Off Program Prototype This Week- Should Brooklyn's Second Biggest Library Be Sold and Drastically Shrunk? Comptroller weighing in.

New York City
WHAT: City Council Subcommittee on Planning, Disposition and Concessions (a part of the Land Use Committee) is scheduled to vote on the precedent-setting proposed fire sale of a major public asset, Brooklyn' second biggest library, the central destination library in Downtown Brooklyn.  A vote of the Land Use Committee is scheduled to follow immediately afterward.
WHEN: Thursday, December 10, 2015, 10:30 A.M. (followed by 11:00 AM vote)
WHERE: Committee Room (next to Council Chambers), City Hall, City Hall park New York, New York 10007
WHAT ELSE?:  Citizens Defending Libraries will be on hand to provide facts about the decision before the City Council.

The City Council Subcommittee on Planning, Disposition and Concessions (a part of the Land Use Committee) is scheduled to vote on whether to approve the sale and drastic shrinkage of Brooklyn's second largest library, the Brooklyn Heights Library (the includes the Business, Career and recently expanded Education Library), the central destination library in Downtown Brooklyn.  Immediately thereafter the Land use Committee will vote.
At the City Council hearing concerning this sale, Brooklyn Public Library president Linda Johnson declared that the sale and shrinkage is looked at as a "model" for transactions underway with respect libraries throughout the city, not just for other libraries in her BPL system, but also for Queens and the NYPL.

These votes of the committee and subcommittee will be the Council's first-ever votes on the proposed sale and drastic shrinkage of a major New York City library with the construction of a 400 foot luxury tower at the site to replace it.

The council's votes are expected to be determined by the traditional deference to the local City Council Member, which in this case is Steve Levin.


    Will Steve Levin Save the Brooklyn Heights Library?

In this video: Councilman Levin's decision, BPL president Linda Johnson says the sale is a "model" for libraries throughout the city, not only in her Brooklyn Public Library system, but also Queens and the NYPL.  And Johnson compliments Councilman Brad Lander, a promoter of the library sale, as being "clever."

Last week the Comptroller expressed serious concerns about the deal and said he would weigh in with a critique of it.

Stringer: Serious Concerns w/Brooklyn Heights Library Plan
The deal closely replicates (and was planned at the same time as) the infamous sale of the Donnell Library which did not require City Council approval because that library was not owned by the city as is typically the case, although city money had been used to renovate the Donnell not long before to provide a new teen center and state of the media center.

November 7th was the 8th anniversary of the announcement of the sudden, secretive sale of the Donnell Library.  Last March the luxury hotel, the luxury condominium building, the luxury restaurants replacing the Donnell Library all opened, but the promised shrunken (less than one-third size) "replacement" Donnell library is nowhere in sight. The NYPL's current, relentlessly postponed expected completion date for that library, to be mostly underground and largely bookless, is  "Summer 2016."  Like the proposed Brooklyn Heights transactions a pittance was received for the library's sale.
See: Priorities To Be Replicated?: Private Luxury Now Abounding Where Former Donnell Library Stood, A "Replacement" Library Is Nowhere In Sight,  Saturday, November 7, 2015.
See also our 3+ minute video about proposed library sales:
Selling Our Libraries!
The Downtown Brooklyn library is a $120+ million public asset that was expanded and fully upgraded in 1993, one of the most modern in the Brooklyn system, but is being sold to net New York City's general fund considerable less than $40 million.  When the math is finally done there might even be a loss.  The library would be shrunk from 63,000 square feet to about 21,000 square feet.  Although the proposed sale would lock in this preordained shrinkage, the Brooklyn Public Library has not designed a replacement library beforehand.

Selling and shrinking libraries is an attack on Democracy, but with off-site so-called "affordable housing" to be built "poor door" fashion in another school district (to generate building rights bonuses) the project also raises serious issues of discrimination.  See:
Evicted From Library And Exiled To Unaffordable Housing
Citizens Defending Libraries finds pubic response consistent and nearly universal. Citizens Defending Libraries collected testimonies from over 2,000 individuals opposing this proposed sale shrinkage in just over two weeks.  Citizens Defending Libraries has over 25,000 signatories to its petitions opposing the sale of this and other NYC libraries.  Citizens Defending Libraries also has a widely signed letter of support calling for New York City libraries to be properly funded not sold, signed by, among others: The Committee To Save The New York Public Library, The Cobble Hill Association, The DUMBO Neighborhood Association, the Boerum Hill Association and the Park Slope Civic Association.

Carolyn E. McIntyre, Michael D. D. White
Michael White, 718-834-6184, mddwhite [at] aol.com
Carolyn McIntyre, 917-757-6542 cemac62 [at] aol.com

Follow us on Twitter: @defendinglibraries

For photos and videos of prior Citizens Defending Libraries rallies opposing the sale, shrinkage, underfunding of New York City libraries, and elimination of books and librarians in the two and a half+ years since its founding, see:


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Citizens Defending Libraries
(718) 797-5207
@DefendLibraries on twitter
backpack362 [at] aol.com
Citizens Defending Libraries
(718) 797-5207
@DefendLibraries on twitter

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