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, April 23, 2015

All Three Candidates For New York 's 11th Congressional District, Donovan, Gentile and Lane (Republican, Democrat and Green), Sign Our Letter of Support- Election Day Is May 5th

All three candidates for New York 's 11th Congressional District, Donovan, Gentile and Lane, above have joined in signing our Citizens Defending Libraries Letter of Support
There is an important election that will be held May 5th.  The election, for New York 's 11th Congressional District, is to fill the seat vacated by former Congressman Michael Grimm (R) who resigned in January after he pleaded guilty to a federal tax evasion charge.

We are pleased to report that all three candidates for the seat, Republican, Democrat and Green, have joined to sign our Citizens Defending Libraries Letter of Support: Support and Sign-On Letter: Full and Adequate Library Funding, A Growing System, Transparency, Books and Librarians.

This universal support for our cause pretty much precludes Citizens Defending Libraries from endorsing one candidate versus another based on their position respecting libraries and their funding, sale, shrinkage, elimination of books or librarians.  Nevertheless, this is an important election and we suggest that you study the candidates positions in all respects.  Here, taking the candidates in alphabetical order, is more information relevant to libraries.  We also encourage  those wishing to participate to supply comments to this page.

Republican Daniel M. Donovan, Jr., is currently the District Attorney for Richmond County (Staten Island).  As someone in charge of an investigative and prosecutorial office we are particularly pleased to have his support.  We have, of course, been urging more scrutiny and investigation with respect to the library sales past like the NYPL’s sale of Donnell and proposed like the NYPL’s proposed sale of the Science, Industry and Business Library (flowing out of the discredited Central Library Plan that also included the sale of Mid-Manhattan and destruction of the main research library stacks), and sales/shrinkages the Brooklyn Public Library is proposing like that of Brooklyn Heights (Tillary Clinton) Library, Red Hook and Williamsburg.

Democrat Vincent J. Gentile, a New York City Councilman, is currently the City Council Chair of Committee on Oversight and Investigations.  It is also especially meaningful to have Mr. Gentile joining in signing our letter of support in that Mr. Gentile is the former Chair of the City Council’s Library Committee, holding that position until relatively recently when it was taken over by City Councilman Costa Constantinides.  We have been busy testifying before the City Council about our objections to the sale and shrinkages of libraries, the elimination of books and librarians and asking that the City Council delve more deeply into these issues.

Candidate Gentile supplied us with the following statement for use in forwarding word of his sign on to support us.  We offered all the candidates the opportunity to supply such an accompanying statement:
The definition of what a library should be in the digital age is constantly changing but our libraries are adapting and rising to meet these new challenges. And because of this, I know our libraries will survive. Whether it's new Americans seeking foreign-language classes or teenagers looking to socialize and be stimulated after school, our libraries are there. Whether it's the unemployed who come to be coached by library staff on résumé-writing or seniors who come to learn how to set up an email account, our libraries are there. That is why today libraries are seen more as public community spaces and centers for opportunity and less as storage spaces for bound volumes of information. During tough economic times, people turn to libraries more than ever.  And it's because of this that libraries must survive. Free and equal access to information is not just a major draw for libraries but one of the hallmarks of a great civilization. Free and equal - no matter who you are, where you live or where you come from, no matter your age, gender, race or economic standing - all have free and equal access to all that our libraries have to offer. Our libraries are "tabernacles" of personal freedom.
Green Candidate James Lane, is not a career politician. He is a lifelong resident of New York City is married and has a young child in our city’s public school system.  When Mr. Lane was previously running for Public Advocate he participated in our Public Advocate’s Forum.  He complected a Citizens Defending Libraries questionnaire in connection with that previous race from which the below is excerpted:
I am strongly opposed of the sale, shrinkage and consolidation of our public libraries and their assets and the reduction of their space. I feel that if the public was made more aware of this issue that we would be having massive protests in the streets. . .
. .  There are no benefits to the community and selling off, shrinking down and consolidating to a so-called Central Library plan. In fact, these plans would only result in a financial profit to wealthy real estate developers that are just trying to obtain these properties at bargain basement prices without providing the public any benefits for the spaces they will have taken away from the people.. .

. . . I believe this practice of selling off and shrinking our public libraries need to be thoroughly investigated.
All of Mr. James’ response together with the questions Mr. James was responding to are available here: Response of Public Advocate Candidate James Lane to Citizens Defending Libraries Questions For Candidates For New York City Offices.

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