Translation from English

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

NYPL- New York Public Library, Trouble with a Capital L

WAS listening to WNYC ( Public Radio) the other day and heard the most distressing news about the New York Public Library System.

I know all branch libraries have suffered cuts because of budget problems but did not realize how bad the situation was, system wide.

For instance, not only are library branches in Harlem literally falling apart ( famous Schaumburg Library Director's office is no longer air conditioned, etc.)...but the main library has gotten rid of all sorts of major collections ( Asian, Baltic, Slavic, etc.) with more cuts to come.

Mid Manhattan and Science Libraries will be put up for sale.

Meanwhile, main library will have $350 million restoration into what critics call " a giant internet cafe" with tons of books tossed.

Let me see if there is anything more about this on the internet--here is finish of one article about Amazon, kindle etc. and how it will affect the library--

"Just as Netflix and other on-demand services have killed meatspace video rentals, though, it’s hard to ignore that an Amazon Digital Library would kill the public library system. The reason Netflix has done so well is because of its flexibility and convenience — and just like hauling your butt down to the local Blockbuster, visiting (and finding books at!) a public library can be a real pain in the ass. The problem with killing public libraries is that the information contained therein would no longer be free to the public, and do you want to be the one to tell the disenfranchized foster kid that he now needs a $100 e-reader to read a book? Unless, of course, Amazon subsidizes Kindle Fires for educational purposes…
If Amazon really does launch a monthly-subscription digital library on Wednesday, it really would be just a matter of time until it stitches up the entire digital rental sector. Amazon will be the cheapest and easiest way to obtain books, magazines, periodicals, TV shows, music, and movies, and the Kindle Fire (and perhaps a smartphone in the future?) will be the best way to consume them. The entire stack will be backed by Amazon’s EC2 and S3 cloud services, almost-perfect vertical integration will have been achieved, customers will wonder how they ever lived without Amazon, and billions of dollars will crystallize out of thin air and land in CEO Jeff Bezos’ pocket."

And, from the Nation magazine a year ago:

n July 2010, Hilde Hoogenboom, a professor of Russian literature at Arizona State University, sent an impassioned missive to Paul LeClerc, president of the New York Public Library, to protest the closure of the NYPL’s Slavic and Baltic division. It “was one of the best places to work in the world,” she wrote. Indeed, in the universe of Russian studies, the Slavic division was legendary. “I recall [it] as an agreeably dim sort of place, with a faintly reverential, almost cathedral-like ambience,” George Kennan said in 1987. Among its 750,000 items are the first book printed in Moscow, the “Anonymous” Gospels; a first edition of Tolstoy’s War and Peace; and John Reed’s collection of broadsides and posters from the Russian Revolution. Trotsky and Nabokov toiled in the division’s reading room. Václav Havel and Mikhail Gorbachev made visits of tribute.
Shelby Kinney-Lang contributed research to this article.

About the Author

Scott Sherman
Scott Sherman is a contributing writer to The Nation.

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Eleven weeks later, a senior NYPL official replied on LeClerc’s behalf: “If I may put this matter into its sadly grim financial context, in the last two fiscal years our budget has been reduced by $20 million and our workforce by 300 positions. While we recognized and prized the special cultural and scholarly resource that was the Slavic Reading Room, we simply could no longer afford to operate it.”
The New York Public Library, which comprises four research libraries and eighty-seven branch libraries, has seen other cutbacks as well. Since 2008 its workforce has been reduced by 27 percent. In a recent newsletter to library supporters, the institution reported that its acquisitions budget for books, CDs and DVDs had been slashed by 26 percent.
Despite these austerity measures, NYPL executives are pushing ahead with a gargantuan renovation of the Forty-second Street library, the crown jewel of the system. The details of the Central Library Plan (CLP) are closely guarded, but it has already sparked criticism among staff members, who worry that the makeover would not only weaken one of the world’s great libraries but mar the architectural integrity of the landmark building on Forty-second Street and Fifth Avenue, renamed the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building in 2008, following the Wall Street billionaire’s gift of $100 million. (Every staff member I spoke with demanded anonymity; a number of them talked openly about their fear of retribution from management.)