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, September 17, 2016

The Brooklyn Book Festival- Attending and Joining Citizens Defending Libraries at the 2016 Brooklyn Book Fair, Sunday, September 18th

This week at the NYPL trustees meeting we learned that the list of NYC libraries being targeted to be sold in real estate redevelopment schemes continues to grow.  The NYPL trustees met in secret executive session for more than an hour to discuss the chair’s introduction of a real estate deal.  The announcement of what was being discussed was cryptic.  Virtually all facts were withheld with staff being very nervous about information getting out, but we believe that the transaction being discussed is the sale for redevelopment of the Jerome Park Library, 118 Eames Pl, Bronx, NY 10468.  The library is several blocks north of the recently proposed Jerome Avenue rezoning so, although the use of such library deals has been discussed as inducements, carrots for such rezonings, there does not appear to be a direct connection between the two, at least as of yet.

This sale for redevelopment of the Jerome Park Library would be in addition to the upper Manhattan” (probably Harlem) library announced for a proposed redevelopment sale at the very last NYPL trustees meeting (where Ethan Hawke was appointed as a new NYPL trustee).  When will targeting of the next library be announced?. . .  The next NYPL trustees meeting is scheduled for November 16th.

Meanwhile, in this context, The Brooklyn Book Festival provides an opportunity for our Citizens Defending Library team members to get out, especially in connection with some of the events of Sunday the Book Fair’s main day, and get word out to book lovers about what is happening.

Here are the Sunday, September 18, 2016 events we consider the most important to attend and/or canvass (Contact Carolyn McIntyre if you want to coordinate in canvassing efforts):
    •    10:00am-  Brooklyn Book Festival Reception for Librarians- Brooklyn Historical Society Library, 128 Pierrepont St.  The library selling BPL president Linda E. Johnson will introduce this event.  We will canvass- An Rsvp is required to attend the event itself: librarians@brooklynbookfestival.org

    •    11:00am-  Where are Libraries Headed? Presented by the Brooklyn Public Library and the Architectural League of New York, Brooklyn Historical Society Library- 128 Pierrepont St.  This event about the “future” of libraries features David Giles, now working directly for the BPL who in reports and op-eds produced working with and funded by the Center for an Urban Future and the Revson Foundation (both of which have been promoting library real estate deals) has advocated and endorsed the sales and drastic shrinkings of the Donnell Library and the Brooklyn Heights Library as good examples for the future.  Another related issue: The BPL’s preference for forcing people to use more expensive, less private digital books.

    •    12:00pm- Security Without Backdoors: The Future of Digital Privacy- Brooklyn Law School Moot Courtroom, 250 Joralemon St.  This session is about whether the government entered an aggressive new phase in squashing digital privacy. Are they seeking to establish legal precedent to ratify their authority over telecoms, software companies, and others? Is this a necessary measure to keep citizens safe in a dangerous world? What are the stakes? Manoush Zomorodi, host of WNYC's Note to Self, leads an esteemed panel including Fred Kaplan (Dark Territory), security expert Bruce Schneier (Data and Goliath), and law scholar Laura K. Donohue (The Future of Foreign Intelligence).- This directly relates to concerns about eliminating physical books from libraries.

    •    12:00pm- Chronicles of the Brooklyn Bridge Park- St. Francis College Workshop Room 4202, 180 Remsen St.   The participants are: Joanne Witty (Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation board member)and Henrik Krogius, authors of Brooklyn Bridge Park, A Dying Waterfront Transformed, and Nancy Webster (executive director, Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy), author of A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park, talk about the inspiring backstory of the community and political engagement that transformed a defunct, urban waterfront into an internationally recognized urban oasis. Moderated by former Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Julius Spiegel. - What’s valuable about being around for this gathering is to be able to point out that there is a heavy overlap involving board members and political operatives between those pushing to plunder libraries to create real estate deals and those pushing for maximum development within the boundaries of what is called Brooklyn Bridge Park.
    •    1:00pm- Terror, Threats and Fear- Brooklyn Law School Moot Courtroom, 250 Joralemon St.  In the 15 years since George W. Bush announced the beginning of the "war on terror," the United States has seen the country's longest wars, acts of homegrown terrorism, increased domestic surveillance, and a presidential candidate who promised to stop Muslim immigration. Join Masha Gessen (The Brothers), Moustafa Bayoumi (This Muslim American Life) and Amitava Kumar (A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb) for a conversation on Islamophobia, the "homegrown" terrorist threat, and the impact of the war on terror on our lives here in the United States. Moderated by Faiza Patel of the Brennan Center.- The war on Terror has provided the premise for massively  increased domestic surveillance.  Librarians were the first to successfully challenge the PATRIOT Act, but now with the sale and shrinking of libraries, the elimination of librarians and books, especially physical books from libraries, what was won by those librarians will be lost again.

    •    2:00pm- Politically Correct?-  Brooklyn Law School Moot Courtroom, 250 Joralemon St.  If and when Americans get to marking the ballot, a Democrat or Republican is invariably elected. If? If voting rights are protected and everyone gets to vote! When?  At the general election when the two major parties have rolled-over or rolled-in the independents, liberals, conservatives, green people, working class, tea party candidates et all. Ralph Nader (Breaking Through Power: It's Easier Than We Think), Thomas Frank, (Listen Liberal), and Gloria J. Browne-Marshall (The Voting Rights War) discuss the election process and voter empowerment. Moderated by Nicholas W. Allard, Brooklyn Law School President and Joseph Crea Dean.  Discuss how continued entrenchment of our duopoly deprives the people of power such that assets highly valued by the public like libraries can be plundered.

    •    3:00pm- Writing the War- Brooklyn Law School Moot Courtroom, 250 Joralemon St.  Who gets to tell the story of the U.S.'s recent interventions in the Middle East, and how does one's perspective or experience change what that story might be? Join Janine di Giovanni (The Morning They Came For Us: Dispatches from Syria), Larry Siems (editor of Mohamedou Ould Slahi's Guantanamo Diary), and Molly Crabapple (Drawing Blood) as they discuss what shaped their stories of America's military imprint, and how to communicate the disruptions of recent history. Moderated by Greg Milner (Pinpoint: How GPS Is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds.