If everybody got it together as much as the library activists, the world’s problems would be solved. Since the New York Public Library system has announced plans to sell two branches to developers, gut the 42nd street library, and send thousands of books to offsite storage, New Yorkers have catalyzed into a noise-making machine. Every Thursday, I get an email from Citizens Defending Libraries with a script and a different political figure for their weekly phone campaign, and Save NYPL has a campaign to email Bill de Blasio. Two blogs have been started. Lawsuits have been filed. There’s a Move On petition with over 15,000 signatures. These people are on it.
None of this, though, is to suggest that the job is done. Trustees still plan to go ahead with the Central Library Plan, which would result in two of Manhattan’s historic libraries turning into condos. NYPL plans to downsize and shut down libraries throughout the city. When Brooklyn’s 110-year-old Pacific Library branch was to turn into condos last year, people made noise, and the library was at least temporarily spared from the frying pan.
So tomorrow: Save NYPL is organizing a rally, from 5:00 to 6:00 PM, rain or shine, outside the 42nd street library during a meeting of the trustees. Presumably they will be talking about the $350 million (it could rise to as much as half a billion) in library funds, which they will be using to gut the libraries. At tomorrow’s budget meeting, New York City Council will discuss the possibility of charging taxpayers $150 million to do that. This is insane.