Monthly Archives: December 2013

DC 37, New York City’s largest public employee union, has come out strongly against the selling off of branch libraries as part of NYPL’s renovation plans. “We can solve the funding crisis without selling our cultural heritage,” says Local 1482 President Eileen Muller, quoted in an article published on the DC 37 website  The article goes on to note:

Critics say the sell-offs are unnecessary and irresponsible and amount to handing over public gems to real estate developers without guaranteeing the public any improvement in library services.

They point to the 2007 botched sale of the Donnell branch in Manhattan as an example of what can go awry when public services are needlessly subjected to market forces.

The article also quotes Ada Louise Huxtable’s evaluation of the Central Library Plan: if the NYPL carries out the plan, the Library “would undertake its own destruction.”

The article is well worth reading in full:
Communities and DC 37 Mobilize to Stop Library Sell-Offs

With our allies we prevailed in court on Tuesday. The temporary restraining order which prevents any demolition at the 42nd Street Library was extended!

Thanks to all of you who helped fill Judge Wooten’s courtroom for the NYPL hearings on Tuesday. Proceedings took most of the day. Arguments by Michael Hiller of Weiss and Hiller representing plaintives Edmund Morris et al. were heard first and after a break, Laura Barbieri from Advocates for Justice representing David Levering Lewis et al. was heard. Both attorneys did a fine job against a phalanx of lawyers from NYPL, New York City and State.

To the surprise of everyone, including the judge, NYPL’s lawyer produced a Letter of Resolution from the NY State Historic Preservation Office, evidence they did not disclose to the opposing council. Evidently NYPL and NYSHPO have been working on this behind closed doors for months. The failure of New York State to stand up for the preservation of this masterpiece of architecture and engineering is disappointing.

The good result of the hearing is that NYPL agreed not to proceed with any demolition or construction at the 42nd Street Library and agreed not to sell either the Mid Manhattan Library or SIBL at least until January 28th, 2014. This agreement is legally binding. This insures that the new city administration will have the opportunity to re-examine this project and reassess the expenditure of $151 Million of taxpayer’s money.

Now we need to renew efforts to contact city officials to make sure they keep election promises to scrutinize the NYPL plan and fully explore more constructive alternatives that will preserve the 42nd Street stacks and keep the Mid-Manhattan as a stand-alone library.

More coverage of the court hearing can be found here:
In Blow to Central Library Plan, NYPL Agrees to Halt Planned Destruction of 42nd St. Library Research Stacks


Despite frigid weather, there was a great turnout (and lots of press) for Monday’s Books Not Billionaires action at the 42nd Street Library. The event was sponsored by the Library Lovers League.

WCBS has a great report on the event. And here are some photos – can you spot the infiltrating billionaires?





Let’s pack the courtroom!

The Court hearing on the lawsuits to halt the Central Library Plan and stop the demolition of the 42nd Street research stacks will be this coming Tuesday:

Tuesday, December 17, 11:00 AM
60 Centre Street, courtroom 341
(Subway: 4,5,6 trains to Brooklyn Bridge, R to City Hall, 2 and 3 to Park Place, A and C to Chambers Street, J and Z to Chambers Street)
arrive a few minutes early to allow time to pass through security

Please come to this hearing to show the judge, the press, and the NYPL administration how important this issue is!

Books and rain don’t mix, so the Library Lovers League has postponed the Flash Mob to Save NYPL for one week. The new date is noon on Monday, December 16. Spread the word and help make this an even bigger and better event to help save the libraries we love!

Event info:
Follow on Twitter: @LibraryLoversNY

WHEN: Monday, December 16 at 12:00-1:00 pm
(rescheduled from December 9 because of bad weather)
WHERE: Steps of the 42nd Street Library, 41st Street and Fifth Avenue

Fearing real books will be evicted from the New York Public Library, theatrical books — props and costumes made of cardboard — will converge at the library, along with performers dressed as real-estate billionaires, for a street theater flash mob to protest the library’s controversial renovation plan. A new group, the Library Lovers League, is organizing the event.

The renovation plan would exile much of the New York Public Library’s research collection to storage in New Jersey, and would sell off the hugely popular Mid-Manhattan branch across the street. It has been strongly criticized by prominent researchers and scholars, as well as by Mayor-elect Bill De Blasio.

Library lovers from around the city, both adults and children, have been making book props and costumes for the event. During the flash mob, mock billionaires will attempt to displace these books to make room for real-estate deals, while the books will alternately lament their fate and seek to stand their ground.  We will have extra props, signs, and leaflets so if you haven’t made your own costume, come anyway!

We have just received word that the State Assembly has cancelled its long-planned December 13 hearing on the Central Library Plan because “the NYPL has declined to participate.” There is a possibility that the hearing will be rescheduled some time next year.

Why is the NYPL refusing to discuss its plans publicly? When will they produce the promised cost estimates for alternatives to the Central Library Plan? We urge the State Assembly to hold NYPL to its promises, and we urge Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to keep his pledge to seek alternatives that will protect the 42nd Street and Mid-Manhattan libraries!

The December issue of the New Criterion magazine contains a feature article titled “Philanthropic Tyranny at the NYPL” slamming the proposed Central Library Plan.  Money quote (quite literally):

It is conspicuous that the guiding figure of the project was Marshall Rose, the chairman emeritus of the library and perhaps New York’s wealthiest real estate magnate. Fittingly, Rose seems to have conceived of the CLP in terms of an immense real estate operation—a bold sale of properties, the exploitation of a prime location with underperforming use (80,000 square feet on Fifth Avenue, prime Manhattan real estate used for—squandered on—book storage!), and finally a dazzling new project by a celebrity architect, in this instance one who specializes in dramatically impaling historical monuments.

Like many of our cultural institutions (one thinks of the Barnes Foundation), the New York Public Library seems fated to be a victim of what must be termed philanthropic tyranny: the willingness of an institution’s stewards to subordinate its long-term interests to the short-term interests of donors and charitable trusts.

The full article can be found here:

It’s unusual, to say the least, for the New Criterion and Nation magazines to agree on anything, but the NYPL’s planned changes to the 42nd Street and Mid-Manhattan libraries have united them in opposition!