Monthly Archives: January 2014

When even the New York Post calls NYPL’s misleading appeal for the Central Library Plan a “sneaky solicitation,” you know their PR campaign has backfired!

Read the full article: Bookworms: LIbrary Mislead Us in Central-Library Plan Petition

May8Rally4smallThe new issue of the Nation magazine reports that Mayor de Blasio faces a choice: he can follow-through on his campaign pledge to halt the Central Library Plan, but time is running short.

De Blasio was right to speak out: the CLP devotes immense resources to the central library, in the heart of Manhattan, while ignoring the needs of the NYPL’s nearly 100 branch libraries, many of which are situated in poor, outlying zones of the city. Those branch libraries need at least $500 million in structural renovations.

How should the new mayor proceed? He should redirect the $150 million in capital funds the Bloomberg administration allocated to the CLP.

Read the full article here.  For more of the Nation’s outstanding coverage of the Central Library Plan, see The Hidden History of New York’s Central Library Plan and Upheaval at the New York Public Library.

The NYPL has just sent out their annual email asking that people sign a letter to the Mayor urging him to support public libraries.  Buried in the middle of this letter is a highly-misleading pledge of support for the Central Library Plan – a plan that would demolish the research stacks in the 42nd Street Library, send 1.5 million books to New Jersey, and sell the Mid-Manhattan Library.   In short, the NYPL is asking you to tell Mayor de Blasio: please wreck the 42nd Street Research Library.

Please do NOT sign this appeal!  And please tell your friends via email, Facebook, and tweets that this appeal is deceptive and should not be signed.

The appeal misleadingly asks that de Blasio support “A renovated central branch library that provides longer hours, more public space, and more resources for children, teachers, job seekers, and more.”

“Central Branch Library” is an intentionally camouflaged reference to the 42nd Street Library. The letter provides no indication of the destructive consequences of this so-called “renovation” – the irreparable  harm to the 42nd Street Research Library, the loss of the Mid-Manhattan as a free-standing library and its shrinkage into a much smaller and ill-suited space never designed to hold a circulating library.

Because “renovated central branch library” is never defined, people reading the appeal will not realize it refers to the 42nd Street Library and to the Central Library Plan. NYPL simply made the name up; “central branch library” appears nowhere else in the entire NYPL website.

It’s a striking confirmation of the Plan’s unpopularity that the NYPL has to make use of such deceptive language in an attempt to create an appearance of support.

Mayor de Blasio has the power to stop the plan, and is on record demanding that the library find an alternative:

We intend to help him follow through on this commitment and truly strengthen our public library systems!


New York State Assemblymember Micah Kellner has issued a powerful statement about the NYPL’s misleading tactics:

I am profoundly disturbed that the leadership of the New York Public Library (NYPL) is using misleading and deceptive language in an attempt to trick New Yorkers into supporting its controversial Central Library Plan for the main 42nd Street Branch…

This is truly an example of Orwellian double-speak. The NYPL’s leadership must harbor serious doubts about the merits and practicality of its Central Library plan to employ such a willfully deceptive appeal.

Read Kellner’s full statement here.


We’ve received word that it is now possible to remove your name if you mistakenly signed the deceptive appeal that NYPL is circulating in support of the Central Library Plan.  To remove your name, please contact:
Johannes Neuer
Acting Director of Engagement
The New York Public Library
445 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016


January 2014

In an article slamming the expansion plans of the Museum of Modern Art (another real-estate crazed NYC cultural institution), NY Times’ architecture critic Michael Kimmelman also calls out NYPL on the Donnell Library fiasco.

The Donnell Library appears to be a model for how the NYPL plans to “transform” libraries (including the Mid-Manhattan), selling off the real-estate and shrinking them into much smaller spaces designed for socializing rather than learning.

The much-loved Donnell was an oasis of light and air, and featured an exceptional children’s library along with outstanding foreign language and audio-visual collections.   It was sold to developers for a pittance and demolished in 2009.  As Kimmelman writes,


Across West 53rd Street from MoMA, the Donnell Library Center, a long-shuttered branch of the New York Public Library, is scheduled to reopen late next year at the same spot but in the bowels of a new luxury hotel, at a third of its former size, with wide bleacher seating and steps as the main feature.

“More like a cultural space, which is about gathering people, giving people the opportunity to encounter each other,” is how the library’s architect, Enrique Norten, describes the plan.

It’s all the same flimflam: flexible spaces to accommodate to-be-named programming, the logic of real estate developers hiding behind the magical thinking of those who claim cultural foresight. It almost never works.

Read the complete article here.


A big thank you to Publishers Weekly for picking the NYPL’s controversial Central Library Plan and library advocates’ efforts to save the research stacks from demolition as one of the “Top 10 library stories of 2013” (number 7, to be exact)!

From the article:

“The NYPL was depicted in the court of public opinion as out of touch with its users, driven by the bottom line, besot with trendiness, and having lost its way,” Kenney noted. “Almost overnight, the NYPL went from a benign, if not beloved, institution to an evil book burner in the minds of some key thinkers.”

In late 2013, NYPL officials announced they were delaying the release of a revised plan until 2014. Indeed, the eyes of the city will be upon the NYPL in the coming months—and one critical set of eyes belongs to a new Mayor, Bill de Blasio.

As public advocate, de Blasio had expressed deep concerns over the renovation, and had pushed the Bloomberg administration for “a detailed financial audit and review” of the project. “Before NYPL goes about demolishing stacks and consolidating libraries,” de Blasio stated in July, 2013, “they need to ensure that the people they serve aren’t being shortchanged and being disregarded for the bottom line.”