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.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Michael Moore’s Anti-George Bush Book Was Saved From The Censorious 9/11 Tyranny by A Courageous Librarian Mobilizing Comrades

After we wrote here at Citizens Defending Libraries about our Citizens Defending Libraries encounter with Michael Moore (exciting!) after his one-man Broadway show “Terms of My Surrender,” and how in that show Mr. Moore surmised to the audience that defunding and closing libraries, part of the dumbing down this country, likely helped put us on the path of Trump being declared president of the United States.  See: How Did Trump Get Elected?: Michael Moore In “Terms of My Surrender” Envisions That It Was A Dumbing Down of the Country That Involved Closing Libraries.

Our writing about Mr. Moore and his expressed appreciation for the libraries when we met with him caused another of our library defenders, Judy Gorman, to head to Broadway and catch Mr. Moore’s show, which means that now we can tell you something more about Mr. Moore, book protection and librarians.  The story we can tell you adds to the reasons Mr. Moore has to view libraries and librarians as precious. It’s a story about a personal debt Mr. Moore has, in fact a personal debt we all have, to a group of librarians in the fight for democracy, freedom of speech and freedom of thought.

(Don’t go out to try to catch Mr. Moores’s show now.  It finally closed after a very respectable run.)

Michael Moore’s show each night was not exactly the same.  It varied from night to night as Mr. Moore reacted to the latest news, varied the stories he told with the constraints of available time, and welcomed different guests visit him on stage.  The night library defender Judy Gorman attended the show expecting him to speak to speak about libraries again, he included another story about librarians he hadn’t told when we were first there.

In 2001 a heroic librarian mobilized a network of librarians and saved Michael Moore’s “Stupid White Men ...And Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation!” from being suppressed from publication by Mr. Moore's own publisher, HarperCollins, who deemed the book too critical of George W. Bush in the wake of 9/11.  What might have happened?: Mr. Moore had nightmares of his pulped book being recycled to come back as “Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly books.”  The rescued book, spent weeks at the top of the best seller lists.

Moore completed the book shortly before 9/11 when it was set to be released.  December 1st Moore read chapters of his book to an audience in New Brunswick, New Jersey telling them with dismay that they would probably be the only ones who would ever hear the words because of his publisher’s intention to deep-six the book.  He said he did not ask for any help.  Without his knowing anything about it Ann Sparanese, a librarian in the audience sent word to fellow librarians on various email lists and there was an immediate and enormous response.  The response reportedly angered Moore’s publishers but put them in a position where they had no choice except to publish (but they were nevertheless vengeful about not having a book tour.)

We would have loved to have revisited the Belasco theater with Judy Gorman that night to hear Moore tell this story personally, but apparently the best night for library and librarian lovers to have gone to see “Terms of My Surrender” was August 17th when Mr. Moore’s guest of honor was Ann Sparanese in person.  “I never expected to be on Broadway,” Sparanese  said according to this first hand account that described her as having “twinkling eyes and long white hair.”

Ms. Sparanse was also in the audience opening night and receiveda standing ovation.”  She certainly deserved it.   Let us applaud her here.

You may recognize the name Judy Gorman, the library defender whose visit to see Mr. Moore at the Belasco occasioned our launching into this follow-up piece.  Ms. Gorman is another heroic activist, a singer song writer who performed with and received praise from Pete Seeger who said of her:
She came, she sang, she conquered. No two programs that she gives are the same. She is always thinking how to find the right phrase, the right song to hit the nail right on the head, to shoot the arrow straight to the heart of the matter.
Judy Gorman also wrote the Don’t Sell Our Libraries Song for us.  It’s always a beautiful song to sing at demonstrations or canvassing when we are out defending libraries, books and the librarians who defend books.  Thank you Judy Gorman and thank you Ann Sparanese.
Michael Moore far left.  Carolyn McIntyre of Citizens Defending Libraries far right.

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