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.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Article In The Villager On What’s Happening To NYC Libraries Featuring Citizens Defending Libraries- Some Contradictions Are Picture Perfect

It is so valuable and so rare when the press runs stories about the selling off of NYC libraries, valuable even when NYPL officials are allowed their talking points– That’s why we are thankful that The Villager just ran an article on the subject, which featured Citizens Defending Libraries and what we are saying to a fair extent.  See:  A new chapter for public libraries has watchdog growling, by Gabe Herman, December 27, 2018.

The whole article is a recommended read, but in response to a few of those NYPL officials talking points, we thought a picture or two is worth a few thousand words.

The article quotes Citizens Defending Libraries co-founder Michael D. D. White a number of times.  This is one: 
White, of C.D.L., specifically criticized the Schwarzman plans as “commercializing the library.” He said a focus is being put on the gift shop and adding a wine bar, while fewer books are now available there, citing off-site storage in New Jersey.
In rebuttal:
    . . .  A library spokesperson said there were never plans for a wine bar or any alcohol to be served at Schwarzman. . .
However here is a visual the NYPL furnished in connection with those plans (and maybe the close-up of what's intended for the Map Room helps just a bit to make a point).   . .  At the NYPL trustees meeting where this was discussed, one trustee expressed hopes the plans could include an expansion to include outdoor cafe space as well, which would mean taking over some of the city land in Bryant Park.

What is in those wine-shaped bottles behind the bar?
And presumably, the NYPL official who says that there are "never plans for a wine bar or any alcohol to be served" at 42nd Street central research library is just not thinking in terms of how the NYPL advertises (see picture below) its space there for ritzy events like society weddings with consequent risk that the library will be closed early to researchers to accommodate them.   

NYPL "Beverage Program" as it advertises its space for events: Just Apple Juice?  
From the NYPL's brochure for using its space for events-- Do we know the etiquette well enough to know that this si showing both red and white wine glasses at the ready standing side by side?
An astute library defender also reminded us about the discussion that has gone on about the current work creating new cafe space atop the Mid-Manhattan Library (the main circulating library across the street), about which the NYPL administration official explaining things said he didn't: “want it to appear that space was being created for dinner events . .   .  but when that space is not being used we have the opportunity to rent it out.” Arguably, this is part of the same plan that includes the Schwarzman building.  Without argument, it is part of the same ethos.

Views of the space being created atop the Mid-Manhattan circulating library, which it is suggested could look down on the front steps of the 42nd Street Central Reference Library that the NYPL promotes for use as wedding space.
 Similarly, the NYPL officials wanted to downplay the loss of books:
The N.Y.P.L. denied any books are missing from Schwarzman, countering that many were moved to a second sublevel beneath Bryant Park, for climate control and a more efficient organizational system.
How Many Books Are Disappearing From New York City Libraries?
Here, to go along with the visuals above, is everything you need to know about the disappearance of books in New York City’s public libraries.  See: How Many Books Are Disappearing From New York City Libraries?

The article notes that “White sees a trend of selling off branches,” and:
“We think they’re picking off libraries one by one,” he said, referring to the S.I.B.L., the Donnell branch in Midtown in 2008 and another strongly opposed plan in Inwood, plus others in Brooklyn, which is under a separate system from the N.Y.P.L.
“Others in Brooklyn,” includes what was the second biggest library in Brooklyn the Business, Career and Education Brooklyn Heights Library, the central destination federal depository library, that was the easiest significant library for the many New Yorkers and Brooklynites to get to.

Reading The Villager article you’ll see that NYPL Chief Operating Officer Iris Weinshall, Senator Schumer’s wife, tries to counter the notion that we are losing library resources, but one of the recent articles you may want to read as background on this is an overview from Jeffrey Wollock of Inwood that brings to light that even the daughter of the Schumers has gotten involved in these library sales, being involved in initiating the Inwood Library sale with her mother.  See:  The Voice of an Inwood Library Defender- Jeffrey Wollock Provides an Overview: Libraries as Real Estate -How NYC's Libraries are Being Stolen.

As for the way that books are disappearing from the libraries as these schemes dismantle them, we like this Michael Michael D. D. White quote from the article:
“The public still prefers physical books,” he said, “the use of the libraries is up, and we’re selling them off and changing the nature of the libraries.”
There is a lot more to learn about this on our web pages.

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