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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams Still Taking Testimony On Whether Brooklyn Heights Library, Brooklyn’s Central Destination Library In Downtown Brooklyn Should Be Sold And Shrunk

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is still taking testimony in written and email form about the proposed sale and shrinkage of the central destination downtown Brooklyn Heights Library for which he held a hearing.
It is important to get more testimony in, the sooner the better.  We will have at least until September 8th to submit testimony, but Eric Adams office has been clear with us that the early testimony has greater influence because they have little time to respond to absorb and include later arriving testimony.  We repeat:  EARLIER IS BETTER!

Here is a form you, and people you know, can use (many people completed and turned one in the 18th, the night oral testimony was taken) to facility the submission of testimony which can be done by email.   Also below is the text version of what is in that form if you want to use that text to tailor something to send in.
You can print this form and use it to submit testimony
Emailed testimony should be sent to: Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President, Email:
Written testimony should be mailed to or dropped off at:

    Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams
    Brooklyn Borough Hall
    209 Joralemon Street
    Brooklyn, New York 11201
Now is the time to ensure that Borough President Adams understand the importance of being on the side of the people on this matter, not the real estate interests.

We have been very effective in getting testimony in to Eric Adams this way.  As of Thursday September 3, 2015 we got in more than 1,500 completed testimony forms to his office this way.  Here on the morning of September 8th what 2,000+ forms look like:
2000+ testimony forms

Down below are pictures of our canvassing to collect the forms.
Here in TEXT form is a checklist of reasons you can include when you testify that you are against the sale and shrinkage of the Brooklyn Heights Library:
•    The library, which I understand has a probable value of over $120 million, is being sold for absurdly little.

•    The BPL has been extraordinarily non-transparent in all ways including keeping its plan to sell this library secret since 2007 (or before) and refusing to publicly disclose  its "strategic real estate plan" revealing what libraries it wants to turn into real estate deals next.

•     We should not be shrinking this library, especially down to just one-third size, especially since it was just enlarged and completely upgraded in 1993 at considerable public expense and sacrifice.
•     It is impossible to guarantee that any proceeds from the sale (which all go to the city) would ever come back to be spent on libraries and, even if they were, the net amount is paltry, perhaps close to or even less than zero.
•     The library is a sturdy beautifully designed building with space that can easily be put to good many good uses in different ways.

•    The library's "Business and Career" functions should not be moved out of the Downtown Brooklyn business district, especially when it is growing.

•    We should not be selling off our public infrastructure to private developers, especially educational infrastructure when, for example, our schools are not keeping pace with new development.

•    It is discriminatory and anti-democratic to turn libraries into real estate boondoggles.

•    I don't like that Mayor de Blasio was taking money from the development team that was chosen while their application was pending. (Developers he said were "lurking right behind the curtain . .  very anxious to get their hands on these valuable properties.")

•    Stuck in the bottom of a residential, privately owned building, we won't ever be able to enlarge this library to correct this shrinkage or accommodate growth.

•    Selling libraries to developers "because they are underfunded"creates a perverse incentive to underfund libraries, exactly what we have witnessed.

•    The library is being shrunk down to a preordained size without bothering to design a new library first or figure out how many books it should hold.

•    I want lots of books in our libraries and this plan gets rid of them.

•    Selling this public asset so cheaply will lead to sell-offs of our other assets including sale of more libraries.

•    We can't sell off our libraries for a few so-called "affordable" housing units, especially when these units "poor door" style are insultingly far away and we are, at the same time, shedding 14,000 truly affordable NYCHA public housing units using the same tactics and excuses employed to sell libraries.

•    A private school (Saint Ann's) is benefitting in a significant and undisclosed amount from the loss that the public will suffer if the library is sold and shrunk (and may even get more from the sale than the city and BPL will net).

•    I don't believe the fairy tales the BPL is telling about how it `can't fix' library air conditioning.  (I wouldn't sell my home for this reason!)

•    No extra space will be built at the Grand Army Plaza Library to house any shift of the "Business and Career" functions to that location and there are no designs or cost estimations for how to cram those functions in.

•    Library use and circulation of physical books is up dramatically and our libraries should grow and be funded to accommodate that.

•    This plan is a short-sighted sacrifice of an irreplaceable asset, inexcusable for a wealthy city like ours.

•    We should have learned from the Donnell Library sale debacle (that this sale is modeled on!) how terrible mistakes like this are.

•    The environmental repercussions of this project have not been adequately considered and assessed.

•    Civilizations that dismantle their libraries generally fail.


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