Defend our libraries, don't defund them. . . . . fund 'em, don't plunder 'ema number of significant successes fending off and preventing library sale and shrinkages and there has been some progress towards restoration of the funding of libraries to a proper pre-library-sales plan level of proper funding, but the libraries are still besieged by the threat of such plans.
This page (which will be periodically updated) provides resources in connection with the petition and campaign to oppose the defunding of New York City's libraries, the shrinkage of the system and the sale of library real estate in deals that prioritize benefit for developers.
|Chart from Center From an Urban Future report showing sharp decline in funding (coinciding with plans to sell off/"leverage" libraries) against escalating use.|
|This José Marti quote which can be found in this plaque on 41st Street's Library Walk is included in the petition to save New York City's libraries|
All libraries in the New York City system are currently under siege. For more details about affected libraries click here: What Libraries Are Affected By City Strategy Of Defunding, Shrinking, Selling Off Libraries?
Here are additional action steps you can take that go beyond promoting the petition in order to help this campaign succeed: Action Steps You Can Take Including Contacting Elected and Other Public Officials.
Note about Citizens Defending Libraries (and allied groups) on Facebook and Twitter: This, or any other of the individual pages at this Citizens Defending Libraries web location can be "liked" on Facebook if you go to the bottom of this page. In addition, there is a Citizens Defending Libraries Facebook page that can also be "liked" on Facebook at: Facebook- Citizens Defending Libraries (which will help you get notice of articles and new information pertaining to the cause when there are updates). You can also follow Citizens Defending @DefendLibraries on twitter.
Our Facebook and Twitter will keep you up to date with the latest news and articles as they come out and allow you to easily share Tweets and posts.
In addition, the Committee to Save the New York Public Library has a Facebook page, and can be followed on Twitter (@saveNYPL). Library Lovers League also has a Facebook page, and can be followed on Twitter (@LibraryLoversNY).
News ArticlesAvailable Reference Articles
• Wall Street Journal: Undertaking Its Destruction, by Ada Louise Huxtable, December 3, 2012.
• New York Times: Critic’s Notebook- In Renderings for a Library Landmark, Stacks of Questions, by Michael Kimmelman, January 29, 2013.“There is no more important landmark building in New York than the New York Public Library, known to New Yorkers simply as the 42nd Street Library, one of the world's greatest research institutions. Completed in 1911 . . . . it is an architectural masterpiece. Yet it is about to undertake its own destruction. The library is on a fast track to demolish the seven floors of stacks just below the magnificent, two-block-long Rose Reading Room for a $300 million restructuring referred to as the Central Library Plan.”
• Noticing New York:“this potential Alamo of engineering, architecture and finance would be irresponsible. . . a not-uncommon phenomenon among cultural boards, a form of architectural Stockholm syndrome.”
• New City-Wide Policy Makes Generation Of Real Estate Deals The Library System’s Primary Purpose, (January 31, 2013).
“Do we want a shrinking library system for a growing, wealthier city? . .
. . . It’s what we are going to get as the principal purpose of the library system becomes the generation of real estate opportunities for developers. This new city-wide policy has, in a very harmful way, turned into a perverse incentive for the city to defund libraries and drive them into the ground.”
• City Strategy Of Withholding Basic City Services To Blackmail Public Into Accepting Bigger Development, (Friday, February 1, 2013)
• What Could We Expect Forest City Ratner Would Do With Two Library Sites On Sale For The Sake Of Creating Real Estate Deals? (Sunday, February 3, 2013)
Two of the sites identified for sale in the forefront of this march towards divestiture of assets with a concomitant shrinkage of the system are in Brooklyn. . . . Whether by coincidence or not, both of these sites . . are immediately adjacent to property the government has previously put in the hands of Forest City Ratner pursuant to no-bid deals . . .• Libraries That Are Now Supposedly “Dilapidated” Were Just Renovated: And Are Developers’ Real Estate Deals More Important Than Bryant Park? (Saturday, February 9, 2013)
• If Our Besieged Libraries Could Speak For Themselves: Maybe They Do! A Petition And Efforts To Save New York’s Libraries From Developer Deals, (Wednesday, February 20, 2013)• Center For An Urban Future: Report - Branches of Opportunity, by David Giles, January 2013
The greatest shame of such a plan is that it, even if it shakes loose a few real estate deals, maybe a few every year, it is a travesty to continually drives all libraries and the entire system into the ground financially.
• New York City Independent Budget Office: Funding Cuts Could Shelve Many Library Branches, by Kate Maher and Doug Turetsky, April 13, 2011[Libraries] “have experienced a 40 percent spike in the number of people attending programs and a 59 percent increase in circulation over the past decade”
.• The Albert Shanker Institute: The High Cost Of Closing Public Libraries, by Matthew Di Carlo, April 18, 2011“The funding fall-off is already taking a toll on the city’s three library systems, particularly the systems in Brooklyn and Queens.” . . .“more than three dozen branch libraries may be closed.” [Bloomberg on a course to bring waning city funding for New York’s three library systems to its] “lowest level since the 1990s.” [The city’s 59 community boards ranked library services their] “third highest budget concern” . . [and] “Brooklyn’s community boards ranked libraries their top priority.”
• The Daily News: Coming to Brooklyn Heights: the incredible shrinking library, patrons and residents charge -- Controversial plan to sell library building to private developer who will build apartment tower over it, by Lore Croghan, February 17, 2013.In fiscal year 2008 (again, according to the U.S. Census Bureau), there were roughly 9,300 public libraries in the U.S., with a total cost of around 10.7 billion dollars. That figure represents roughly 0.4 percent – four tenths of one percent – of all state and local government expenditures. On a per capita basis, this is about 35 dollars per person. [local-level analyses] “have found that for every dollar we spent on public libraries, the public realizes about 3-5 dollars in benefits.”
. . . a controversial plan to sell the city-owned Brooklyn Heights Library building to a private developer who will erect an apartment tower with a new, 15,000 square foot branch - smaller than the book hall that’s there now.. . . many patrons use the business library like it’s part of their neighborhood branch — and are upset the space will be eliminated.• Library Journal: Donnell sale highlights need for transparency in decision-making, by Francine Fialkoff, Editor-in-Chief, February 1, 2008.
. . . the building that housed Donnell has been sold to make way for a hotel and a much smaller public library. . (w)ith the proposed library having less than half the space for public services as the old Donnell . . . questions remain about the location of some of the collections. . . More importantly, the breakup of the collections diminishes the role of Donnell as a central library . . . The decisions . . . [were] communicated to staff (and in the case of Donnell, to the public) largely after the big decisions have been made.• Walkers In The City: Patience and Fortitude, by Romy Ashby. February 22, 2013.
Should a public/private entity like NYPL. . so blithely sidestep public and staff input? [The] Libraries Subcommittee chair of the New York City Council . . . “. . didn't know about the Donnell sale ahead of time.” “It's troubling . . . in terms of . . the whole mission of the library.”
. . . It's way past time for NYPL leaders to come out from behind their cloak of secrecy. . get staff and public feedback before making any other sweeping changes.
The meeting was crowded with mostly older people hearing the same kind of talk about their library and smelling a rat. “The 42nd Street library isn’t the only library in trouble,” a man said. “It’s the whole library system.” A lady in her seventies told of standing up to Robert Moses and winning. “We’re not gonna watch our libraries be demolished!” she said. “We want the library we have, nothing less! The minute you give in to their conditions you’re finished! You get bupkis!” I sat and listened, and some of what I heard was this:• The Leonard Lopate Show: Controversy at the New York Public Library, Scott Sherman, a contributing writer for The Nation and Caleb Crain, a former Fellow at the NYPL and author of American Sympathy, talk about the proposed changes, staffing cuts and construction plans, March 12, 2012.
The city is deliberately underfunding the libraries despite library use being way up. Perfectly good libraries are being labeled ‘Dilapidated’ to justify their destruction. Librarians have been warned to sound enthusiastic if asked about any such plans. The money from the sale of libraries will not go back into the library system, despite what library brass may say. . .
• The Nation: Upheaval at the New York Public Library, by Scott Sherman, November 30, 2011.
• The Nation: The Hidden History of New York City’s Central Library Plan: Why did one of the world’s greatest libraries adopt a $300 million transformation without any real public debate?, by Scott Sherman, August 28, 2013.
For two years, the NYPL has refused to discuss the CLP in detail, and many questions remain unanswered. How and why did one of the world’s greatest libraries get into the real estate business? How did the CLP, which was formulated between 2005 and early 2007, advance into late 2011 without any significant public debate or discussion? Who first conceived the idea of demolishing book stacks that were constructed by Carrère and Hastings in the first decade of the twentieth century? What role did the Bloomberg administration play in the creation of the CLP? Finally, what was the role of Booz Allen Hamilton—the gargantuan consulting firm whose tentacles reach into the defense, energy, transportation and financial service sectors—which was hired by the NYPL in 2007 to formulate what became known inside the trustee meetings as “the strategy”?• The Wall Street Journal: Clueless at the Corcoran- What the museum's latest bad decision says about nonprofit governance, by Eric Gibson, February, 24, 2014.
. . . 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.• The Brooklyn Eagle (Exclusive): Brooklyn Public Library in line for audit, says Comptroller Stringer, by Mary Frost, February, 28, 2014.
. . . 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.
Groups opposing the controversial sales of Brooklyn and Manhattan library branches to developers have long been pushing for an audit of the BPL and NPL systems. . .• City Limits: New Scrutiny of City's Library Trustees- The trustees of the city's library systems oversee more than 200 branches and the spending of hundreds of millions of city dollars. How representative of the city are they?, by Suzanne Travers, June 18, 2014.
“Some of the things raised with respect to the Queens library system are interesting and worth investigating but the Queens expenditures ($140K for a conference deck) are penny ante compared to the library sales at the NPL and the BPL,” commented Michael D. D. White, a founding member of Citizens Defending Library, following a Brian Lehrer interview with Comptroller Stringer. “The Queens Library system has not been selling off libraries like the other two,” White added.
Over the last year, library trustees have seen more of the spotlight than usual because of moves that put boards at odds with public opinion. . .• The Brian Lehrer Show: Giving Libraries Their Due, David Giles, research director at the Center for an Urban Future and the author of the report, "Branches of Opportunity", argues that New York City's public libraries deserve even more support in the digital age. (Click below to listen) January 15, 2013.
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As repositories of information available to anyone who walks through the door, libraries have always helped foster transparency, accountability and democracy. Their boards, however, struggle on all three counts.
More people visited public libraries in New York than every major sports team and every major cultural institution combined.
|Chart from the Independent Budget Office- Adjustments for inflation (per the Urban Future report) shows downturn in starkest relief.|
|Meville House article on Citizens Defending Libraries event used picture from July rally where Bill de Blasio joined CDL to call for a halt to these library sales. Video of event on CDL's Youtube channel.|
Citizens Defending Libraries, which was co-founded by Michael D. D. White and Carolyn McIntyre, has been organizing protests and actions against the Central Library Plan. They have told us that they are continuing to solicit "petition signatures to ensure the de Blasio administration scraps all of the Bloomberg library sell-off plans.". .• New York Times: Denying New York Libraries the Fuel They Need, by Jim Dwyer, April 23, 2015.
. . . Citizens Defending Libraries is just now arriving at our first anniversary, just blowing out the single candle on our birthday cake. We formed in response to breaking headlines at the very beginning of last year about how libraries were being sold off at the end of the Bloomberg administration in deals that would benefit real estate developers, not the public.
The city's libraries - the fusty old buildings, and a few spiffier modern ones, . . have more users than major professional sports, performing arts, museums, gardens and zoos - combined.
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Over the last decade, they have not gotten anywhere near the kind of capital funding enjoyed by sports teams.
From the 2006 fiscal year through 2014, the city budgeted at least $464 million to build new baseball stadiums for the Yankees and the Mets, and $156 million for the Barclays Center. That's $620 million for just those three sports arenas - a sum more than one-third greater than the $453 million that the city committed for capital improvements to the its 206 branch libraries and four research centers, which serve roughly seven times as many people a year as attend baseball games. (The budget figures were provided by the city's Independent Budget Office; the teams are getting an additional $680 million in subsidies spread over 40 years.)
For decades, the libraries have served a single function in the city budget process: hostages. Mayors say they have to cut library hours to make the financial books balance.. .Additional Links. For more in a running series of Noticing New York articles about the libraries click here: Libraries Series. Also, here are pages with articles that reference respectively 1.) The Central Library Plan affecting the Tilden Astor Central Reference Library at 42nd Street, the Mid-Manhattan, Library, SIBL and the Donnell, 2.) The Brooklyn Heights libraries, and The Pacific Branch library, and 3.) Libraries in general.
|Foreground: The lion Patience , of Patience and Fortitude fame, in front of 42nd Street Research Library, whose research stacks will be sacrificed. Background: Mid-Manhattan Library that will be sold in system shrinkage plans|
For images and cartoons for posters, rallies and handouts CLICK HERE. For flyers and handouts for canvassing and getting the word out about the petition CLICK HERE.
Citizens Defending Libraries is making videos available on the Citizens Defending Libraries YouTube Channel. Selected videos from that channel can also be found here in the Video Page.
(It is expected more will be added to this list with accompanying explanations)
**** Citizens Defending Libraries is right now is working with the Committee to Save the New York Public Library and Library Lovers League to make sure every signs and (electronically) sends this email to the mayor (CCs are going to other elected officials): Email the Mayor! ****
There is another separate petition (currently over 1300 signatures) by the Committee to Save the New York Public Library that has been up for some time and specifically opposes the Central Library Plan in Manhattan:
Anthony W. Marx: Reconsider the $350 million plan to remake NYC's landmark central library
The following petition to save Long Island College Hospital (LICH) is relevant to the save the libraries petition, particularly for the residents of Brooklyn Heights and Northwest Brooklyn, because of commonality of related issues that were explained at the annual Brooklyn Heights Association meeting and in the following article: Wednesday, February 13, 2013, One-Stop Petition Shopping: Report On The Brooklyn Heights Association Annual Meeting, LICH and Libraries.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYS Health Department Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah : Keep University Hospital Brooklyn at Long Island College Hospital open, by Assemblywoman Joan Millman
|The morning crowd waiting for the Brooklyn Heights downtown library to open|
The first petition (gathered over 17,000 signature, most of them online- available at signon.org with a background statement and can still be signed). On June 16, Citizens Defending libraries issued a new updated petition that you can sign now:
CONTACT: To contact Citizens Defending Libraries email Backpack362 (at) aol.com.