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Scott Sherman, contributing writer to The Nation, reports on some big changes planned for the New York Public Library.
I agree with the quote and it reflects my journey from a college age liberal activist to now a conservative Roman Catholic. Life experience shows us the complex reasons for inequality which seem so simple and changeable in youth. When I left for the Peace Corps at 20 and a liberal activist warned me that people often return as conservatives, which happened to me. I realized I couldn't enlighten and mold people into my western ideals, that individuals needed to be given space to make their own transformation .
It's not a question of public acclaim. It's a question of having an intelligent discussion about the use of public money. Even the Transit Authority is obliged to conduct hearings if it proposes cutting token booth staffing, closing entrances, etc. NYC gives NYPL alot of money to operate branches of the library. NYPL needs to bend over backwards to encourage public discussion before undertaking major changes.
It boils down to what the role of public libraries is in today's world. However iconic the current format, there has to be room for evolution. Libraries are community hubs and vital lifelines to information for New Yorkers at every point on the educational ladder. Is the mission to be a shrine to past users or a beacon for future users?
Public discussion is always worthwhile. Still, we have to speculate that running a cultural/educational institution by public acclaim would leave a lot to be desired.
Typical of a library which now displays the name of Stephen Schwarzman, the hedge fund billionaire who compared a mild Obama taxation proposal to Hitler's invasion of Poland.
Reminds me of the decision to destroy the old Penn Station.
Which of the Trustees, their spouses or friends are going to win large amounts of money from the contracts that result in destroying the public good ?
More trivially, which of the Trustees or donors are going to get their names on rooms and plaques ?
I guess they're too important to spend their time actually DEFENDING THE PUBLIC TRUST.
We desperately NEED libraries like MidManhattan and SIB.
We do NOT need a boondoggle where trustees spend a fortune on E-readers and other electronics which will be worthless in 2 years. We do not need a MOMA style theft of public assets to spend on pet projects, architects and real estate developpers.
Instead, keep some of the main libraries open long hours on both Saturday and Sunday to maximize use. Less fame, no plaques, no slush fund for NYPL board member's friends and lovers, but much more benefit for the citizens of NYC who actual USE the libraries and rely on them.
Hopefully the City Comptroller's office willlook into this. Or the DA or somebody!
Stop this theft of the public good.
Brian Lehrer asked Scott Sherman if Mayor Bloomberg should look into it. Sherman sensibly avoided agreeing with Lehrer and ended by saying there should be public discussion. Bloomberg is too close the to the trustees to deal with this opening and objectively.
There needs to be an investigation and a true audit by the State comptroller's office to truly look at what NYPL has been doing with its funds and public money. How can the people in higher positions raise their salaries every year when they are not a for-profit institution. Where is the money coming from?
The NYPL issue isn't just about the change in the nature of research and library use. It's about secrecy and the use of public money. There needs to be a wide public discussion about this subject. NYPL is very good at "damage control." NYC citizens need to keep up the heat and demand a "sunshine" policy regarding the working of the NYPL board of trustees.
Not all patrons of the NYPL welcome a digitized future for the institution. The elimination of millions of printed matter should not be a de facto move by the Library.
I fully agree that libraries serve a much greater purpose than merely making books and other written materials available for free to the general public. Growing up on the hard streets of Brownsville in Brooklyn back in the '50s, I doubt I would have survived if not for the local library branch in which I was able to take shelter within off the streets. It was a safe spot. And in the interim I think I read nearly every book in it.The physical library structure served we well then.
To the President + Board of Trustees
Please do not spend money on the Main Library. Spend the money on resources and hours for the branch libraries.
Please do not close the fully functional SIBL and the Mid-Manhattan branches.
It is impossible for me to understand how the money can be mis-managed in this manner!
I strongly support the Library's maintaining the books in its possession. This archive represents a world treasure of inestimable value.
Yuck, yuck, yuck. Why people keep thinking "going digital" is the answer to everything is beyond me. The more we all switch to computers, the more waste we are actually creating. Also, a great, world-class library should include print books. Constantly reading on computer monitors is not an enjoyable experience to a lot of people, and if the BPL has a historic print archive, they should share it with the public.
I agree with your guest - the funds should be allocated for computer resource labs in borough branches, where many residents live who don't have computers or Internet service at home.
Mr. Sherman seems to be overly romanticizing the stacks. New York Public Library needs to have the flexibility to attract patrons in the digital age.
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