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Beep: City should take over, merge library systems

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Mayor DeBlasio should merge the Brooklyn Public Library with the rest of New York’s library systems and place the whole operation under the control of the city’s Department of Education, says Borough President Adams.

“Our library systems are wrong,” said Adams last week in an interview at the offices of Community News Group, the parent company of this paper. “I think the greatest thing the mayor can do is say, ‘I am no longer going to allow these separate branches.’ Put this all under the DOE budget, have this be an extension of the department of education.”

The borough’s cash-strapped library system — which the city gives some money to but is ultimately a private company responsible for raising its own funds — is struggling to repair its crumbling facilities and is planning to sell off some of its sites to developers to help it stay afloat.

But the Beep said the book-lending service is an essential educational resource that shouldn’t have to go begging for donations to keep its buildings standing and that the city needs to take it over.

“They should not have to come with a cup in their hand every year to get coins to pay for the capital projects that need to get done,” said Adams, who added that he does nevertheless support building housing on top of existing libraries — so long as it includes apartments for seniors and below-market-rate units.

Adams said a unified, city-run library system could partner its branches with local schools and would be more forward-thinking than today’s paper-pushing institutions. He said he envisions book-free libraries and small outlets in storefronts where kids could access information they need for free digitally.

“We no longer need shelves of books in libraries to look impressive,” he said. “We feel as though the more books we have, the smarter we are. No.”

And local computer-centric libraries where kids could go after school would also help ween teachers off a textbook-based education, he said.

“There’s no reasons to still allow the book industry to control our learning environment,” said the Beep, who said he has had several conversations with library officials about his ideas.

Adams also discussed a number of other hot topics at the meeting, including:

Controversial car-service Uber, which he said he is backing in its ongoing high-profile fight against city hall. Adams said he does support some taxi industry regulation, but not the proposal to cap the number of new livery cabs — which he said would unfairly target fast-growing startups like Uber and its ilk.

He said pols need to get out of the way of the innovative car service, which has made it easier for people of color and those who live in the outer boroughs to get rides.

“My son is able to pick up his phone no matter where he is and, instead of arguing about the fact that yellow cabs pass him by because of how he looks, he’s now able to just have his Uber car come pick him up,” said Adams of his 19-year-old offspring.

Re-paving the area around Borough Hall Plaza. He predicts the steps of the People’s House — also known as Brooklyn’s Stoop — will be out of commission for the rest of summer while workers lay down new tiles to replace the old, crumbling bluestone slabs.

Gov. Cuomo and rent regulation. Adams slammed Cuomo for not protecting the city’s renters during the state government’s heated debate over rent regulations, comparing his actions to President Gerald Ford’s refusal to bail the city out when it was facing bankruptcy in 1975.

“He has really turned his back on New York City and basically drew from the great terms of Ford telling New York City to drop dead,” said Adams.

Eric Garner’s death. The former cop said he would not support a ban on police officers employing the kind of chokeholds officer Daniel Pantaleo used on Garner — he said police shouldn’t have to limit their options in the heat of a physical confrontation — but that authorities need to be retrained to resolve conflicts without immediately resorting to lethal force.

Brooklyn Terminal Market. The Beep did not seem to have made much headway on his pre-election plan to re-develop the Canarsie bazaar into a gourmet destination where restaurants grow all their produce on hydroponic “vertical farms.”

• This year’s crushing loss to the Bronx and its borough president Ruben Diaz, Jr. in the annual inter-borough handball contest. Adams half-jokingly accused his competition of deflating the ball and also said Diaz chickened out of a best-dressed competition.— with Ruth Brown

Reach reporter Harry MacCormack at or by calling (718) 260–2511.

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Reader feedback

Janice S. Lintz from UES says:
Every library in NYC should have hearing induction loops at its service counters and community rooms. Why is there no consistency? Why do advocates have to work to add hearing access one library at a time? No one would ever expect this for physical access so why is it okay for hearing access? It is 25 years after the ADA and our city's libraries are still not accessible for people with hearing loss. It is time for change.

Janice S. Lintz, CEO, Hearing Access & Innovations
July 22, 2015, 10:05 am
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights says:
The timing of this interview is interesting in that Mr. Adams is about to hear testimony from the public (the first ever borough president public hearing of its kind) about what the public wants in terms of libraries, having books, and whether it wants to see libraries sold off as giveaway real estate deals to developers.

SEE: Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams To Hold Uniform Land Use Review Procedure Public Hearing, August 18, 2015, On Whether Brooklyn Heights Library, Brooklyn’s Central Destination Library In Downtown Brooklyn Should Be Sold And Shrunk
July 22, 2015, 1:06 pm
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights says:
Worth looking at, this report of what happened at CB2 last week:

Brooklyn Community Board 2 Votes To Sell and Shrink Brooklyn Heights Library, Largely In the Dark, With Much Manipulation And Strong-Arming In Background- Developer’s Says He’s “Super-duper Excited” And Thankful
July 22, 2015, 1:06 pm
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights says:
It may be a good thing to consolidate the libraries, . .. that's well worth debating, as well as precisely how it could-or should best be done,, but it must be noted that this is something that City Councilman Brad Lander has long been pushing for and Lander is also out in the forefront leading the charge to sell and shrink libraries, handing them off to developers..

His support of the NYPL Central Library Plan (essentially a real estate boondoggle for welthy insiders) helped lead to what Scott Shreman estimated, today speaking on WNYC's BBC news hour, as probably $30 to $40 million in waste.
July 22, 2015, 1:06 pm
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights says:
If Mr. Adams "envisions book-free libraries," meaning that he envisions a forced switchover to digital books, he perhaps should note the recent Washington Post coverage about digital books, not that highly revered in general by the public, COSTING the libraries MORE.. . . Sort of a problems if we are really "short of funds."

SEE: Libraries under fire as they shift from print to digital.
July 22, 2015, 1:07 pm
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights says:
More about digital vs, physical books and what the public thinks (mostly preferring physical books and learning better from them) here :

Physical Books vs. Digital Books
July 22, 2015, 1:07 pm
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights says:
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights says:
SEE: CB2 Denied Crucial Facts Before Approving Library Sale
July 22, 2015, 1:07 pm
Mary Buchwald from Park Slope says:
It sounds like our Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is reading from a script prepared by non-educators and non-librarians? His ideas sounds like a scheme dreamed up by the Tech and Real Estate interests ... eyeing the best of all possible worlds for their future profits at the expense of the people of the city.
Centralizing schools and libraries (207 branches) under the Department of Education and under mayoral control will not serve the needs of either schools or libraries. Lack of funding is common to both systems. Many of our failing schools are in Brooklyn and may be taken over by the state.
The mayor is holding back on adequately funding both our schools and libraries.

Eric Adams's attitudes toward books and libraries are frankly reprehensible. His comments indicate he does not read books. His ideas indicate that he has not had input from educators, and/or librarians.

Did he say that he is fine with building housing on top of a library with qualifications only about who lives in the housing? I do hope Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will attend his own ULURP hearings, stay for the entire time and not depend solely on the video. The community will have an opportunity to tell him their thoughts about selling and shrinking the important Brooklyn Heights Library.

Will he be listening or has his decision, according to this interview, already been made?

Oh, yes, when is the next election !!!!!!
July 23, 2015, 2:19 pm
marilyn from brooklyn says:
Digital books are very difficult and expensive to produce. We don't have that kind of time or money. Real books, according to the latest statistics, are what people want. Real books inspire love for reading, love for learning. We need libraries that are abundant with books for browsing, for discovery, excitement. If you want to kill love of reading and learning, put the words on a cold, cold screen. It will also give us people with cold, cold hearts.
July 24, 2015, 1:15 am

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